But those other measures are either costly, require blood tests or carry some risk, whereas erectile dysfunction can be determined by a simple question, Araujo said.
So doctors should ask the question, said Dr. R. Parker Ward, a cardiologist and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, who has done several studies on erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular risk.
"Why not ask a simple question in the office that will reveal a diagnosis very clearly?" Ward said. "It is cheaper and easier than doing a lipid profile or measuring high blood pressure."
It's information that men should offer to their doctors, Araujo said. "Self-reported erectile dysfunction matches what urologists say about the question," he said. "We should get the message out: If you have an erectile problem, see your doctor."
Having a doctor ask the question or a man offer the information can lead to preventive therapy that can be lifesaving, Araujo said.
"One of the first signals that a guy has cardiovascular disease is often sudden death," he said.
The U.S. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse has more on erectile dysfunction.
SOURCES: Andre Araujo, Ph.D., director, epidemiology, New England Research Institutes, Watertown, Mass.; R. Parker Ward, M.D., associate professor, medicine, University of Chicago; Jan. 19, 2010, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, online
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