Erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence may more than affect your relationship with your significant other. ED just may be a warning sign of impending heart disease.
Men with even mild erectile dysfunction — but no known heart problems — face a major extra risk of developing heart disease in the future. And as erectile dysfunction becomes more pronounced, signs of hidden heart disease and earlier death risk grow.
Not surprisingly, men already known to have a heart condition along with severe erectile dysfunction fare worst of all. Among men aged 45 and up without diagnosed heart disease, those with moderate or severe erectile dysfunction were up to 50 percent more likely to be hospitalized for heart problems. Erectile dysfunction boosted the risk for hospitalization with a diagnosis of heart disease.
Men with erectile dysfunction should take action by seeing a health professional and asking for a heart check.
An estimated 60 percent of men aged 70 and up suffer from moderate to severe erectile dysfunction. The condition can place major limits on sexual activity and require the use of drugs like Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis that can come with side effects.
A variety of causes can contribute to impotence, but it is widely acknowledged that erectile dysfunction is predominantly the result of underlying cardiovascular disease.
Doctors already believe that erectile dysfunction is an early warning sign of heart problems. The arteries of the penis are smaller than those of other parts of the body including the arteries to the heart and may be more likely to reveal problems when their lining deteriorates before heart symptoms occur.
Bottom Line: Men with severe erectile dysfunction, compared to those with no problem, were eight times more likely to have heart failure, 60 percent more likely to have heart disease and almost twice as likely to die of any cause. So before you ignore erectile dysfunction as occurring with age, think of your ED as a dangling stress test and see your doctor and get your heart checked out.