Robert is a 53 year old man with high blood pressure. He has a job associated with stress. He is 25 pounds overweight. He rarely exercises and admits to being a little heavy handed with the saltshaker. He takes a diuretic, hydrochlorthiazide, and an anti-hypertensive medication and since beginning these two medications, he has noted that his sexual performance has gone into very low gear.
High blood pressure can get worse over time and cause problems with getting an erection. A major study showed that 26% of men with high blood pressure said they had erectile dysfunction (ED). That was twice the rate of ED in men with normal blood pressure. Some medicines for high blood pressure, such as diuretics, can also cause ED. But if you’re able to keep your blood pressure under control — even with medicines — you can help prevent your ED from getting worse.
An estimated 15 million to 30 million men in the U.S. have ED. Some changes in sexual function are normal as a man ages. Erections may be less firm, or it may take you longer to get erect. ED is sometimes temporary, too. Stress, relationship issues, illness, and drug side effects may cause it. But if your erection difficulty is ongoing and it keeps you from having the sex life you want, it may be time to seek treatment.
Many men have problems getting or maintaining an erection at some point in their lives. If it happens occasionally, it is probably not a medical problem. But if you repeatedly have trouble — if it happens about a quarter of the time or more — you may want to talk to your doctor about treatment. .
Some drugs for high blood pressure may cause ED. These include diuretics (water pills) and beta-blockers. ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers are less likely to cause ED. If you started having erection problems after you began taking medicine, talk to your doctor. You may be able to switch to a drug that can lower your blood pressure without increasing your risk for ED.
Even with high blood pressure and ED, you can still have a good sex life. If your blood pressure is under control you may be able to take an ED pill. Cialis, Levitra, and Viagra are safe to take with most blood-pressure medicines. If ED pills aren’t for you, other proven treatments include implants, pumps, and injectable drugs. You also need to check your testosterone level if your sexual performance is not what you would like it to be or if your sex drive has gone into the tank.
Heart disease — a common complication of high blood pressure — and ED are commonly seen together. A blockage in a heart artery is a good indication that the same thing may be happening in arteries that supply blood to the penis, making it difficult to get an erection. Many men with heart disease can’t take ED pills due to an interaction with heart disease drugs called nitrates. But new research suggests some men with stable heart disease may be able to slowly stop taking nitrates if their doctor thinks they would benefit from an ED pill. Stopping nitrates can be dangerous, so talk to your doctor first. If ED pills aren’t for you, there are other ED treatments that are safe for men with heart disease.
Robert spoke to his doctor and got the message about the connection of ED and high blood pressure. He began an exercise program, lost the 25 pounds over a six-month period, and cut out salt in his diet. His blood pressure normalized and he was able to stop using the medication and he had a noticeable improvement in his sexual performance.
Bottom Line: High blood pressure can lower your sexual performance. Treating the high blood pressure and healthy life style changes can also significantly improve ED.
This article was excerpted from an article by Brunilda Nazario, MD appearing in WebMD