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Erectile Dysfunction a Strong Harbinger of Heart Trouble
Date:5/19/2008

gs to what we already know," said Dr. R. Parker Ward, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, who led an earlier study linking erectile dysfunction with heart disease. "One is that they indicate the importance of erectile dysfunction in diabetic patients in terms of predicting future cardiovascular events. These studies suggest that the additional presence of erectile dysfunction places them at incrementally higher risk. Secondly, they show that even when considered in combination with traditional risk factors, erectile dysfunction offers incremental information about the risk of future cardiovascular events."

Cholesterol-reducing statins lowered the incidence of cardiac events by a third, the Italian researchers reported, and Viagra and other drugs for erectile dysfunction also appeared to lower the risk, although the reduction was not statistically significant, meaning that it could be due to chance.

"I strongly caution that we do not have enough evidence at this point that the drugs used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction have any beneficial effects on the development of heart disease," Ward said.

Physicians should be more forward in talking about sexual performance with men, Monrad said, since "this may prove to be a very sensitive marker for all the other things we measure for cardiovascular risk, an early and more sensitive measure if we could get over all our puritanic inhibitions."

Acknowledgment of erectile dysfunction "should prompt us to be even more aggressive about lifestyle change, in diet and exercise," Page said. "It potentially may suggest more aggressive treatment of risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol."

More information

Learn about erectile dysfunction from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

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