Impotent? Maybe You Should See a Heart Doctor

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This study found that impotence on its own is a significant risk factor.

Cardiovascular disease and ED share common risk factors, including obesity, hypertension, smoking, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, a condition marked by a cluster of features such as elevated blood sugar, hypertension and excess abdominal fat, according to the research.

Previous studies have linked similar risk factors responsible for contributing to heart disease to erectile dysfunction as well, including obesity, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, high cholesterol lack of physical activity and smoking.

ED, which can be triggered by high blood pressure and cholesterol, strikes one in ten men at some point in their lives. Researchers found that men were probably more likely to recognize sexual dysfunction than signs of cardiovascular disease. It is important to note, however, that although the condition can be caused by circulatory system abnormalities and inflammation, some cases are the result of depression or anxiety, hormonal changes, injuries, or medication side effects.

In a study published Monday in the journal Circulation, researchers say they have documented another risk factor that could help identify men at greatest risk of heart problems: Among a group of 1,900 men aged 60 to 78, those with erectile dysfunction were twice as likely as men without the condition to have a heart attack, stroke, or die of a heart problem. The participants were of various ethnic, racial, and geographic backgrounds.

After adjusting the statistical model for the other risk factors, plus depression and use of various medications, the authors found that subjects with ED were almost twice as likely to suffer a cardiovascular event - a heart attack, cardiac arrest, or stroke - compared with those without erectile issues.

The investigators determined that just over 6 percent of men with ED experienced such an event, compared with just under 3 percent of sexually healthy men.

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Impotence is a better indicator of the world's leading killer than other risk factors, such as high cholesterol or blood pressure, researchers now claim.

Blaha's team pulled their data from a large study that tracked the cardiovascular health of more than 6,000 racially diverse men and women across the U.S. over several years.

"Our results reveal that erectile dysfunction is, in and of itself, a potent predictor of cardiovascular risk", Michael Blaha, professor of medicine at John Hopkins School of Medicine and co-author of the study, writes in a press release.

Blaha suggested a visit to a doctor or a preventive cardiologist.

Sometimes, men will seek treatments for ED as a way to treat the heart problems.

Health officials in the United Kingdom last year incorporated ED in the risk-scoring algorithm used by doctors to assess a patient's 10-year cardiovascular risk. There are usually different specialists involved and different treatment methods.

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