Erectile dysfunction gives a two to three year early warning of a heart attack, says Dr Geoffrey Hackett, of the Good Hope Hospital in Birmingham, UK. But Hackett warns that the link between erectile dysfunction and heart disease is being ignored by doctors.
In the latest issue of the British Medical Journal, Hackett reports regularly seeing patients referred with erectile dysfunction after a heart attack, only to hear from the patient that they had developed erectile dysfunction two to three years before the heart attack — a warning sign ignored by their doctors.
Hackett said men should be aware that erectile dysfunction (a symptom of vascular disease in the smaller arteries) doubles the risk of heart disease; a risk equivalent to being a moderate smoker or having an immediate family history of heart disease. Additionally, he noted that erectile dysfunction in type 2 diabetes sufferers has been shown to be a better predictor of heart disease than high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
But despite this considerable evidence erectile dysfunction is still treated as a recreational or "lifestyle issue" rather than a predictor of a serious health problem, laments Hackett. "Continuing to ignore these issues on the basis that cardiologists feel uncomfortable mentioning the word 'erection' to their patients or that they may have to deal with the management of a positive response, is no longer acceptable and possibly, based on current evidence, clinically negligent", he concludes.
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Source: British Medical Journal