In the same issue of the journal, Dr. Steven A. Grover and colleagues studied a group of 3,912 Canadian men, nearly half of whom reported having erectile dysfunction in the four weeks prior to visiting their family physicians. The men's cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure measurements were taken.
"When you calculated a global cardiovascular risk, [it] was strongly associated with the probability that you had erectile dysfunction," said Grover, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal. "And subsequently there have been other studies that have shown that people who have erectile dysfunction are, in fact, more likely to develop cardiovascular disease in the future."
Thompson and his colleagues provided the first substantial evidence linking erectile dysfunction and subsequent risk for heart disease in a December 2005 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Yet the connection is not as well recognized among doctors and patients as cardiologists and urologists think it should be.
"A lot of men don't have physicians," Thompson explained. "They may not know what their blood pressure is or their lipid profiles, or they may be smokers, and they may never have been counseled to stop smoking or to reduce their weight.
"We think that if men with erectile dysfunction went to see their physicians, it may enable the interaction with the physician to discuss other coronary risk factors," he said.
Erectile problems aren't always vascular in nature. Sometimes the trouble is psychological or neurological and wouldn't necessarily be associated with a higher risk of heart disease, Ward cautioned. Still, research linking erectile dysfunction (ED) and heart disease suggests that a proactive approach is the best medicine.
"We as physicians shoul
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