A study out of Germany this week indicates that erectile dysfunction may be a powerful indicator of cardiovascular disease in men.
The study, which sampled 1,519 men from 13 countries with cardiovascular disease over a five-year period involved a questionnaire about erectile dysfunction that asked men to specify their degree of impotence.
During the five years that subjects participated, some of the men were given specific drugs for heart disease (which relax blood vessels and thus decrease the heart’s workload) while others were given placebos.
The study found that patients with erectile dysfunction had a higher prevalence of hypertension, stroke, diabetes and lower urinary tract surgery than those without erectile dysfunction. And deaths from all causes occurred in 11.3 percent of the patients who reported erectile dysfunction but in only 5.6 percent of those with no or mild erectile dysfunction at the start of the study.
“Erectile dysfunction is something that regularly should be addressed in the medical history of patients; it might be a symptom of early atherosclerosis,” said Dr. Michael Böhm, lead author of the study and chairman of Internal Medicine in the Department of Cardiology and Intensive Care at the University of Saarland, Germany. He stressed erectile dysfunction is “an early predictor of cardiovascular disease.”
Dr. Robert Stein — professor of cardiology at the New York University School Medicine, and spokesman for the American Heart Association — called the study a wake-up call.
The study appears in this month’s issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.