Erectile dysfunction (ED) is often an early warning sign of possible heart disease—even in men without other risk factors. A study at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Modena, Italy, showed that obstruction-causing systemic plaque may show up sooner in the smaller arteries of the penis than in the rest of the cardiovascular system.

Men with erectile dysfunction may also be likely to have higher levels of C-reactive protein, abnormal blood vessel response to changes in blood flow and more coronary artery calcification, which are all associated with the risk of coronary artery disease.

A 2006 study by researchers from the University of Chicago showed that men who exhibited ED were not only at risk for atherosclerotic vascular disease, but could also exhibit abnormal results on stress testing and evidence of coronary artery blockage. Erectile dysfunction was also associated with reduced exercise endurance and decreases in the heart’s pumping capacity (low “ejection fraction”).

When talking to your urologist or primary care physician about ED therapies, ask about your risk of heart disease.

 

Sources:

Emilio Chiurlia. “Erectile Dysfunction May Signal Early Atherosclerosis.” American College of Cardiology (2005, October 12). Science Daily. Retrieved April 28, 2010 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051012231352.htm Study Author: Emilio Chiurlia Parker Ward, James Min, Kim Williams, Tochi Okwuosa, George Bell and Michael Panutich. “Prediction of Coronary Heart Disease by Erectile Dysfunction in Men Referred for Nuclear Stress Testing.” Archives of Internal Medicine (2006); 166; 201-206. Medical News Today. Retrieved May 5, 2010 from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/36497.php