Erectile dysfunction may signal heart disease

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Erectile dysfunction (ED) problems maintaining an erection may be a barometer of heart problems and could indicate an increased risk of death, a new study has found. The degree of risk correlated with the severity of the ED, as well as the presence of pre-existent heart disease.

Australian researchers examined the health records of 95,000 men from the 45 and Up study, an ongoing study of healthy aging in the Southern Hemisphere. The men gave health and lifestyle information and were followed for two or three years, during which time 7,855 were admitted to the hospital for cardiovascular disease and 2,304 died.

They found men with severe erectile dysfunction had a 60 percent risk of coronary artery disease and had almost double the risk of dying, according to the study, published in PLOS Medicine.

The researchers said it s unlikely that difficulty maintaining an erection causes heart disease, but is rather likely a sign of it and could be a useful marker for doctors.

Lead researcher Emily Banks told Australian Associated Press, "If you have erectile dysfunction you really need to take action and go to your doctor and ask for a heart check, if you haven't been assessed before.

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross said, We have long known of the relationship between ED and CVD; it s perfectly logical, as aside from relationship and psychological issues, vascular supply through the small penile arteries is crucial for maintaining an erection. There is no magical difference between those arteries and the coronaries. ED does not cause heart disease both conditions often have the same pathogenesis.