Recent research illustrates a link between heart disease and erectile dysfunction. It appears that men who experience erectile dysfunction in their forties are twice as likely to develop heart disease in comparison to men without that dysfunction. This information comes from a new Mayo Clinic study. These researchers also found that the larger category of all men with erectile dysfunction have an 80 percent higher risk of heart disease.
Jennifer St. Sauver, Ph.D, author, stated that the highest risk for coronary heart disease was in younger men. The study was published in the February 2009 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings. The results suggest that younger men and their doctors may need to consider erectile dysfunction a harbinger of future risk of coronary heart disease -- and take appropriate steps to prevent it, says Dr. St. Sauver.
An editorial in the same issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings reinstated the importance of this work. The results “raise the possibility of a ‘window of curability,’ in which progression of cardiac disease might be slowed or halted by medical intervention,” says one of the editorial comments.
Erectile dysfunction is common, and prevalence increases with age. It affects 5 to 10 percent of men at age 40. By age 70, from 40 to 60 percent of men have the condition.
For this study, the investigators identified 1,402 men who lived in Olmsted County, Minn., in 1996 and did not have heart disease. Every two years for 10 years, these men were assessed for urological and sexual health.
Over 10 years of follow-up, researchers found that men with erectile dysfunction were 80 percent more likely to develop coronary heart disease compared to men without erectile dysfunction. The highest risk of new heart disease was seen in the youngest study participants who had erectile dysfunction. In men 40 to 49 years old when the study began, the number of new cases in men with erectile dysfunction was more than 50-fold higher than in men without erectile dysfunction.