Erection problems linked to heart disease
Erectile dysfunction a red flag for 'silent' heart disease and early death, according to new research
30th January 2013 - Men with erection problems now have an extra reason to see their doctor after a major new study revealed even relatively minor erectile difficulties could signal 'silent' heart disease and may indicate an increased risk of dying early.
Researchers found men with erectile dysfunction have a higher risk of hospital admission for heart disease, even if they have no history of heart problems. They are also at greater risk of premature death from any cause.
Lead author of the large Australian study, Professor Emily Banks, says in a press release: "Rather than causing heart disease, erectile dysfunction is more likely to be a symptom or signal of underlying 'silent' heart disease and could in future become a useful marker to help doctors predict the risk of a cardiovascular problem. This is a sensitive topic but men shouldn't suffer in silence; there are many effective treatments, both for erectile dysfunction and for cardiovascular disease."
Erection problems are very common. The NHS estimates 50% of men aged 40 to 70 years have it to some degree.
ED & heart disease link
The study, published in international journal PLOS Medicine, is the first to show a direct link between how severe a man's erection problem is and his risk of dying early or being treated in hospital for heart disease.
"The risks of future heart disease and premature death increased steadily with severity of erectile dysfunction, both in men with and without a history of cardiovascular disease," says Professor Banks.
Heart Foundation Cardiovascular Health Director Dr Rob Grenfell said in a media release: "These results tell us that every man who is suffering from any degree of erectile dysfunction should be seeking medical assistance as early as possible and also insisting on a heart health check by their GP at the same time."
While previous studies have shown that men with severe erectile dysfunction are more likely than men with no erectile difficulties to have cardiovascular events such as heart disease or stroke, this study was the first to review gradients of erectile dysfunction from none, to mild, moderate and severe forms.
The researchers examined hospital and death records for over 95,000 men from the 45 and Up Study -the largest ongoing study of healthy ageing in the Southern Hemisphere, with more than 250,000 people taking part.
The men gave information about health and lifestyle factors and were followed for a two to three-year period, recording 7855 hospital admissions related to cardiovascular disease and 2304 deaths.
"The large number of men in the study meant we could also look at the risks in relation to different types of cardiovascular disease," Professor Banks says. "We found men with erectile dysfunction were at higher risk of heart attack, heart failure, peripheral vascular disease and heart conduction problems."