Men experiencing impotence should undergo thorough medical assessments, say experts who contend that many men with erectile dysfunction (ED) also have coronary artery disease. The latest call adds weight to the already recognized relationship between erectile dysfunction and coronary artery disease (CAD).
Writing in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, the study authors say that men with ED will often develop coronary symptoms within two to three years of impotence and actually experience a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack, within three to five years. They stress that it is vital that doctors stabilize cardiovascular function before even considering initiating any ED therapy.
The new study was compiled by Dr Graham Jackson, a London-based cardiologist, and 11 experts from the UK, Italy, Greece and the USA. Its key findings included:
- ED in otherwise healthy men and those with type 2 diabetes may be associated with early subclinical signs of CAD, including reduced blood flow and calcification of the arteries.
- ED sufferers generally exhibit more severe CAD and dysfunction in the left ventricle of the heart than those without ED and the severity of the ED may also be correlated with the severity of the CAD.
- In two-thirds of men, CAD is preceded by ED. The association in younger men aged between 40 and 69 is much clearer than in men over 70.
The authors suggest that the link between CAD and ED could be due to atherosclerosis, a condition where plaque builds up inside the arteries, leading to restricted blood flow. "It has been suggested that because the arteries supplying the penis are smaller than those supplying the heart, they will be affected by reduced blood flow - a major cause of ED - before the symptoms of CAD develop," explained Dr Jackson.
"The evidence supporting the relationship between ED and cardiovascular disease has continued to increase over recent years and yet recognition of the association remains limited among healthcare professionals and the general public," he concluded. "Recognizing the relationship between ED and CAD will improve and save lives."
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Source: International Journal of Clinical Practice