Experts urge more doctors to ask simple question of male patients
MONDAY, Jan. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Erectile dysfunction is a strong warning sign that a man might be at increased risk for heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems, a long-running study indicates.
"We saw that adjusting for age and Framingham [Heart Study] risk factors, men with erectile function still had a 40 percent increased risk," said Andre Araujo, director of epidemiology at New England Research Institutes and lead author of a report published online Jan. 19 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Though adding erectile dysfunction to the list of known risk factors determined by the Framingham Heart Study -- cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure -- doesn't improve the prediction of future cardiovascular trouble, it can be a quick, free addition to risk assessment, Araujo said.
"If a man presents with erectile dysfunction, the physician should work him up for cardiovascular disease," he said. "It is low cost -- indeed, no cost -- with no risk associated with it."
The study is the latest of several that have linked erectile dysfunction to cardiovascular disease. That is to be expected, Araujo said, because the same artery-blocking conditions that reduce blood flow to the heart and brain can also reduce flow to the penis.
The study followed 1,057 men, aged 40 to 70, for an average of 12 years. Overall, 37 percent of the men with erectile dysfunction were in the high-risk category according to the Framingham standards, compared with 17 percent of men without erectile dysfunction.
Once the link to cardiovascular problems was established, "we started modeling to see if we added erectile dysfunction to the Framingham risk profile we could reclassify some men," Araujo said. "In fact, it doesn't do much."
The reason is that the Framingham risk profile is hard to improve o
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