Archive for the ‘cholesterol’ Category

Statins, Cholesterol and Erectile Dysfunction

September 4, 2016

Statins are a group of medicines that can help lower the level of cholesterol in the blood.  Having a high level of cholesterol is potentially dangerous, as it can lead to a hardening and narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) such as coronary heart disease, chest pain, heart attacks,  strokes, and even erectile dysfunction\impotence.  Cholesterol that narrows the blood vessels can decrease the blood flow to the penis thus making it difficult to achieve and maintain an erection adequate for sexual intimacy.

Before taking statins, every man or woman should give strong consideration to lifestyle changes such as losing weight, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol consumption, and consider smoking cessation.  All of these actions can decrease the cholesterol levels.  All of these lifestyle changes can also improve sexual function.

Bottom Line:  Elevated cholesterol levels are deleterious to your health.  Consider lifestyle changes before starting statins.  Your erections and your partner will thank you!

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Preventive Health For All Men

January 18, 2016

Do you know that most men spend more time taking care of their cars or planning a vacation than they do taking care of their health?  In the U.S., women live 5-7 years longer than men.  I believe one of the reasons is that women seek out regular medical care throughout their entire lives.  They see a obstetrician during child bearing years; they get regular mammograms; they obtain routine PAP smears and other preventive health measures for their entire lives.  Men, on the other hand, stop seeing a doctor around age 18 and never see the inside of a medical office until middle age.  During that time they can have high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, diabetes, and prostate diseases.

But there are some things men, in particular, should keep in mind when it comes to maintaining their health:

Heart disease and cholesterol

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 200,000 people die each year from preventable heart disease and strokes, with men being significantly more at risk than women.

Men should begin screenings for these issues in their mid-30s.

Annual health examinations should begin at around age 50.  This should include a test for anemia, a cholesterol level, a chest x-ray if the man is a smoker, a PSA test for prostate cancer, and a blood pressure determination.

For those men with an elevated cholesterol level, they can lower the level by adhereing to  a healthy diet consisting less heavy in red meats and carbohydrates, and limiting alcohol consumption, i.e., 2 drinks\day. Men of all ages should also continue to stay physically active by incorporating aerobic activities, i.e., any activity that increases the heart rate for 20 minutes 3-4 times a week, into their lifestyle, as well as strength training.

Prostate health

There is some debate among health care professionals about when men should begin screening for prostate cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the CDC recommend against screening unless men begin experiencing the symptoms associated with prostate cancer. These include frequent urination, especially at night, pain during urination and difficulty fully emptying the bladder.

Prostate screening can begin earlier in life, around age 40, if there is a high risk for prostate cancer, such as family history, or bothersome lower urinary tract symptoms.

Testosterone

As men age, lowering testosterone levels can become another area men should monitor.  Significantly low testosterone levels can predispose a man to low bone mineral density with subsequent bone fractures, erectile dysfunction (impotence) and low energy levels.

Testing for testosterone levels is done through a blood test.

Bottom Line: these are the minimal preventive care that all men should consider around age 30-40.  Remember if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, may apply to your car, but not to your body.  You need to take preventive measures with your body just as you do with your automobile.

Cholesterol: the New Approach to Managing Your Cholesterol Levels

November 3, 2015

I am 72 years of age and have a family history of heart disease in both of my parents. I have been very concerned about heart health and my cholesterol level. This blog is intended to discuss the new numbers and what you need to know about using medication to lower your cholesterol levels.

More than a quarter of Americans older than 40 are taking a statin, a number that could rise to 46 percent of people aged 40 to 75 under the newest prescription guidelines, especially now that almost all statins are available as inexpensive generics. A recent study showed that prescribing statins under the new guidelines could cut in half the number of people who develop clinical evidence of cardiovascular disease.

Because statins are cheap, as well as effective and safe for most people, doctors often prescribe them for otherwise healthy patients with elevated cholesterol, even if they have no other cardiovascular risk factors. Yet many who could benefit — including people with established heart disease and serious risk factors like smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure — who are not on a statin for reasons that include reluctance to take daily medication, and concern about possible or actual side effects.

While best known for their ability to lower serum cholesterol, statins also reduce artery-damaging inflammation that can result in a life-threatening blood clot. By lowering cholesterol, statins also appear to stabilize plaque, artery deposits that can break loose and cause a heart attack or stroke. And they may cleanse arteries of plaque that has not yet become calcified.
Instead of striving for a target level of, say, under 200 for total cholesterol and under 100 for LDL, the new guidelines, put forth by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association, focus on four main groups who could be helped by statins.
1. People who have cardiovascular disease, including those who have had a heart attack, stroke, peripheral artery disease, transient ischemic attack or surgery to open or replace coronary arteries.
2. People with very high levels of LDL cholesterol, 190 milligrams or above.
3. People with an LDL level from 70 to 189 milligrams who also have diabetes, a serious cardiovascular risk.
4. People with an LDL level above 100 who, based on other risks like smoking, being overweight or high blood pressure, face a 7.5 percent or higher risk of having a heart attack within 10 years.
Gone are the recommended LDL(low density lipoprotein)- and non-HDL(high density lipoprogein)–cholesterol targets, specifically those that ask physicians to treat patients with cardiovascular disease to less than 100 mg/dL or the optional goal of less than 70 mg/dL. According to the expert panel, there is simply no evidence from randomized, controlled clinical trials to support treatment to a specific target. As a result, the new guidelines make no recommendations for specific LDL-cholesterol or non-HDL targets for the primary and secondary prevention of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

Bottom Line: The new guidelines identify four groups of primary- and secondary-prevention patients in whom physicians should focus their efforts to reduce cardiovascular disease events. And in these four patient groups, the new guidelines make recommendations regarding the appropriate dose of statin therapy in order to achieve relative reductions in LDL.

ED May Be A Warning Sign For Heart Disease

August 7, 2015

The penis is a dangling stress test and may be a predictor of impending heart disease.

Most men would never make the connection between their penis and heart — but it exists. Men should think of their penis as a thermometer for the heart. When the arteries in one part of your body are clogged, you can expect arteries to be filling up with sticky cholesterol-like plaque in other parts of the body as well.

Heart doctors have long understood this concept, routinely ultra-sounding the arteries of the neck (carotids) to provide a barometer for the tiny arteries (coronaries) that supply the heart.

Now, a new study provides evidence that the penis is another crucial barometer of arterial disease. The study, published in the August 2015 issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, reveals that men with erectile dysfunction and depression are much more likely to go on to develop heart disease than those without ED.

A team of Italian researchers screened 1687 patients with erectile dysfunction and found that men with ED who were also depressed were much more likely to have a heart attack or angina. ED is clearly an alert to larger emotional and physical problems including heart disease.

Here’s the explanation of the penis-heart connection: The arteries that supply the penis are only able to provide a strong sustained erection when they are working perfectly. So ED is often an indication that something is wrong with your arteries, and since the arteries of the penis are smaller than the arteries of the heart (coronary arteries), they tend to get clogged earlier. ED usually occurs before heart disease occurs. The penis is a likely barometer, a canary in the coal mine, for impending problems in the coronary arteries.

Of course, ED can be caused by many different things, including low testosterone, medication side effects, and depression alone. Not all patients with ED have arterial problems or will go on to have problems with their hearts. But a significant number will. We recommend all men who begin having problems getting erections to see their doctor for a thorough total body examination. And the concept of formally screening men for heart disease on the basis of ED should be investigated further.

An ideal study would separate men into two groups; one with erectile dysfunction, and one without. Each group would be followed to see which men went on to develop heart problems and which didn’t. In the meantime, there is every reason to consider ED as a warning sign for heart disease and a window into problems in a man’s total health.
Impotence, aka erectile dysfunction, is not often the easiest topic to discuss but it affects more men than we likely realize. As many as 50 million men in the US and Europe suffer from impotence, or erectile dysfunction. Statistically, this number includes only about 5% of men less than 40 years old and up to 25% of men by the time they reach 65 years of age. By definition, impotence is the inability to get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse.
Erectile dysfunction is almost always referred to as an older man’s disease, but this just isn’t the case. About 26% of men under the age of 40 are affected by ED according to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Bottom Line: One could guess that impotence at a young age could be the first sign of a potential heart attack later in life. So if you have difficulty with obtaining or maintaining an erection, speak to your doctor and consider getting a comprehensive examination including a thorough heart examination.

Erectile Dysfunction High Cholesterol? Statins An Option For ED

February 16, 2015

ED affects millions of American men and many of these men have high cholesterol levels which causes narrowing of the blood vessels all over the body including the blood supply to the penis. Now there is evidence that statins, drugs used to lower the cholesterol level, may offer help for men with ED. statin – not only to improve their quality of life but also to reduce their future cardiovascular risk.

The study from treated men with high cholesterol levels and a history of ED with statins 6 months and the men had improvement in their sexual health-related quality of life and reduced their risk of heart disease.

A greater benefit was seen in men with severe ED treated with statins who had improvements of 12% versus 5% in men who did not receive a statin.
Improvement in erectile function (on the International Index of Erectile

Bottom Line: If you have either ED or an elevated cholesterol level, speak to your doctor about using a statin, which not only improves your quality of sexual life but also reduces your future cardiovascular risk.

More FAQs From My Patients

February 16, 2015

I have a high cholesterol level. Is there anything I can do to lower the cholesterol level besides medications, i.e., statins?
Yes, there are cholesterol lowering foods that are effective and have absolutely no side effects. These include:
Soluble fiber of 25gms each day is helpful and good for the colon as well. Good sources of soluble fiber include legumes such as peas and beans; cereal grains such as oats and barley and vegetables and fruits such as carrots, apples, and dried plums (prunes).
Nuts to the rescue. Although nuts are high in fat, the fats are predominantly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, which are known to decrease LDL cholesterol levels or bad cholesterol. By eating a daily helping of nuts — about 2.4 ounces — results in an average 5% reduction in total cholesterol concentration. Nuts that will help lower LDL cholesterol levels include almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pecans, macadamias and pistachios.
Plant sterols and stanols, plant compounds that are structurally similar to cholesterol, partially block the absorption of cholesterol from the small intestine. They lower levels of LDL cholesterol without adversely affecting high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol levels. Plant sterols and stanols, plant compounds that are structurally similar to cholesterol, partially block the absorption of cholesterol from the small intestine. They lower levels of LDL cholesterol without adversely affecting high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol levels.
So you can begin by decreasing your consumption of red meat, butter, and high cholesterol containing seafood such as crayfish (heaven forbid!) shrimp and lobster and try these other non-medical options. If these do not work, then talk to your doctor about medication.

I am thinking of having a vasectomy. Is there any risk of erectile dysfunction or impotence?
No, you have nothing to worry about. A vasectomy ONLY prevents the sperm from entering into the ejaculate or seminal fluid. It does not affect the testosterone level or the ability to engage in sexual intimacy. If your erections are good before the vasectomy, they will remain just like they were prior to the vasectomy. So it is safe to proceed with the “prime cut”!

I am a man 78 years of age. Do I need to have a PSA test for prostate cancer?
No, the American Cancer Society and the American Urological Association do not recommend screening for prostate cancer with the PSA test in men more than 75 years. Cancer screening tests — including the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to look for signs of prostate cancer — can be a good idea in younger men between 50-75 but not in men over age 75. A normal PSA test, combined with a digital rectal exam, can help reassure you that it’s unlikely you have prostate cancer. But getting a PSA test for prostate cancer is not be necessary for men 75 and older.

I am 40 years of age and ate some red beets. My urine turned red. Is that normal after consuming red beets?
Usually red urine after red beet consumption is a result of a pigment, betalain, in the red beets and is nothing to worry about. However, if the red persists more than 24 hours after consuming the beets, then it is important to see your physician and have a urine examination. When the red color persists, this is referred to as hematuria. Hematuria is a clinical term referring to the presence of blood, specifically red blood cells, in the urine. Whether this blood is visible only under a microscope or present in quantities sufficient to be seen with the naked eye, hematuria is a sign that something is causing abnormal bleeding in the patient’s genitourinary tract. For more information on hematuria, please go to my website: http://neilbaum.com/articles/hematuria-blood-in-the-urine

What Every Woman Should Know….About Her Man

November 26, 2014

Men live 5-7 years less than women and often have poorer health than their female counterparts. This may be due to many factors but certainly one is that men seek out preventive healthcare much less often than women. This blog is intended to give you an overview of the unique healthcare problems of men and what women can do to help their men lead happier and healthier lives.

ED\Impotence
ED is a common condition that affects as many as 30 million American men. Most men are uncomfortable discussing their sexual problems with either their partners or their healthcare providers. As a result men feel embarrassed and women often feel that the man in their life doesn’t find them attractive.

About 70% of the time, ED is caused by an underlying health problem, most often diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, or heart disease. The remaining 30% of men suffer from ED caused by stress, anxiety, depression, the side effects of medication, or drug and alcohol abuse.

In most cases, ED is treatable, which means that it doesn’t have to be a natural or inevitable part of growing older. Treatments include drug therapy (Cialis, Levitra, or Viagra) vacuum devices, injections, or penile implants. If your partner is suffering from ED, encourage him to seek medical care as certainly this condition can be effectively treated.

Testosterone
Testosterone is one of the most important hormones for the normal growth and development of male sex and reproductive organs. It is responsible for the development of male characteristics such as body and facial hair, muscle growth and strength, and deep voice.

Men’s testosterone levels naturally decrease as men age. But if the levels drop below the normal range, some uncomfortable and often distressing symptoms may develop, including:
Decreased libido or sex drive
Importance or ED
Depression
Fatigue or loss of energy
Loss of muscle mass

As many as 10 million men suffer from low testosterone (low T) but only 5% are being treated.

The diagnosis is made with a simple blood test that measures the blood level of testosterone. If the T level is decreased and the man has symptoms of low T, then replacement therapy with injections, topical gels, or pellets can be prescribed.

Prostate
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that manufactures fluid for semen. It is located at the base of the bladder and surrounds the urethra or the tube that transports urine from the bladder through the penis to the outside of the body.

Prostatitis is a condition often caused by a bacterial infection or an inflammatory response similar to that seen with allergies and asthma. Symptoms may include a discharge, discomfort, pain in the area underneath the scrotum or testicles, frequent urination, and burning with urination. Treatment usually consists of medication and medications t decrease the inflammatory response in the prostate gland.

Benign prostate gland enlargement affects most men after age 50. The symptoms consist of frequent urination, getting up at night to urinate, and a decrease in the force and the caliber of the urine stream. Treatment consists of oral medication to reduce the size of the prostate gland, or medication that can relax the prostate and improve the urine flow. Now there are minimally invasive treatments such as microwaves, lasers, and even a new treatment, UroLift, that pins open the prostate gland in a 15 minute procedure in an outpatient setting.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. Nearly 240,000 new cases are diagnosed every year and causes 30,000 deaths each year making it the second most common cause of death due to cancer in men. The diagnosis is made by a digital rectal exam and a blood test, PSA test. If prostate cancer is caught early, it is often curable and nearly always treatable.

In the early stages, prostate cancer usually causes NO symptoms. However, as the disease progresses, so do the symptoms such as hip or back pain, difficulty with urination, painful or burning on urination or blood in the urine.

Every man should consider a baseline PSA test and a digital rectal examination at age 40. Additionally, African Americans and men with a family history of prostate cancer see a physician annually beginning at age 40.

Treatment options for prostate cancer include surgical removal of the prostate gland, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy or cryosurgery. Some men with localized, low risk prostate cancer might select active surveillance or watchful waiting which closes monitors the cancer to see if it progresses or becomes aggressive. If the cancer progresses, then treatment is usually instituted.

Testicular cancer
Cancer of the testicle is the most common cancer in men between the ages of 15-35. Although, there is nothing to prevent testicular cancer, if the cancer is diagnosed early, there is a high cure rate. Early detection is the key to success.

Symptoms of testicle cancer include:
Lumps or enlargement of either testicle
A feeling of pulling or unusual weight in the scrotum
Pain or discomfort in the testicle or scrotum
Dull ache in the lower abdomen
Enlargement or tenderness of the breasts

The best way to diagnose testicle cancer is be doing a testicle self-examination. Men\boys should examine themselves once a month just as women are recommended to do a monthly breast self examination. If a man experiences a lump or bump on the testicle or in the scrotum, contact your physician as soon as possible.

So what do I recommend?
In your 20s
A physical examination every three years
Check blood pressure every year
Screening for cancers of the thyroid, testicles, lymph nodes, mouth, and skin every three years
Cholesterol test every three years
Testicular self-exam every month

In your 30s
All of the above and a physical exam every two years

In your 40s
A physical exam every two years
A PSA test and a digital rectal exam if you are in a high-risk group
A stool test for colon and rectal cancer every year

At age 50 and above
A colonoscopy every 5 years or as recommended by your physician
A PSA and digital rectal exam every year

Bottom Line: Women can be so helpful in guiding men to good health. If you love your man, encourage him to follow these guidelines.

In the next blog we will discuss what men need to know about women’s health.

Non Medical Ways to Boost Testosterone Levels

November 9, 2014

Testosterone is the male hormone produced in the testicles and it is responsible for man’s sex drive. Low testosterone levels can impact a man’s sexual performance. This blog will discuss life-style changes that men can make to improve their testosterone levels.

The sex hormone testosterone is often touted as helping men maintain their vitality and virility, but levels begin to dip naturally by about 1 percent a year after age 30. Signs that your testosterone may be declining more rapidly include loss of energy, decreased sex drive, irritation or anger, and trouble sleeping.
Although testosterone supplementation is effective, there are risks and side effects that make life style changes a more attractive alternative. There are many tried and true drug-free and hormone-free ways to maintain testosterone levels.

Deep Six the Sauce (Alcohol)
A glass of wine with dinner is no problem, but overdrinking is not a good idea. Moderate alcohol consumption for men is a max of two drinks a day, with one being a 5-ounce glass of wine.

Shed Some Pounds
Being overweight or obese can increase risk for heart disease and certain cancers, but extra weight also increase the risk for low testosterone levels. Research published in Diabetes Care in June 2010 showed that 40 percent of obese men had lower-than-normal testosterone readings, and this percentage increased to 50 percent among obese men with diabetes. Weight loss can be a hormone-free way to combat low T. A benefit of weight loss for obese men is that the penis will appear to be longer because of the loss of the abdominal fat. I usually tell men that every 30 pound weight loss increases the length of the penis by 1.5 inches.

Send Out a Stress SOS
A study done at the University of Texas at Austin in 2010 suggested that the stress hormone cortisol may block the beneficial testosterone. When our stress levels are up, our testosterone can go down.

Regular exercise helps reduce stress levels as well as help you maintain a normal weight, so it packs a double whammy against low testosterone levels. Other stress reduction techniques, like deep breathing, can also serve as natural testosterone support.

Take a Big Dose of Vitamin “E”-Exercise
Exercise can help maintain your testosterone levels and avoid some of the symptoms of low T.
Research in the September 2011 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research backs this up. The study showed that a 4-week sprint-interval training program helped boost testosterone levels in a drug-free fashion among wrestlers.

Sleep And Sex
A small study conducted at the University of Chicago School of Medicine found that men who slept less than five hours a night for one week had lower levels of testosterone than when they had a full night’s sleep.
When you are sleep deprived, it impacts levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which reduces testosterone just like stress can. A sleep-deprived state is a testosterone-deprived state. Everyone’s sleep needs are different, but it’s important that you wake up feeling refreshed.

Avoid Plastic Bottles
The controversial chemical bisphenol A (BPA) is found in many plastic water bottles as well as in the lining of food and beverage cans, and exposure to this plasticizer may result in low T. BPA can act like the female hormone estrogen in the body, which means it can lower levels of testosterone,
Don’t cook foods wrapped in plastic in the microwave, and try to drink from a glass or a steel thermos. The more flexible a plastic bottle, the more likely it is to leach BPA and affect the testosterone level

Think Zinc
If you take a multivitamin with zinc or eat oysters every day, your zinc levels are probably within the normal range. Aim for 12 to 15 milligrams a day to help stave off low T.

Some Fat Is Your Friend

Men who eat a low-fat diet have lower testosterone, because the body makes testosterone from cholesterol. But this doesn’t mean you should eat unhealthy bad fats. Instead choose healthy fats such as those found in avocado, nuts, and olive oil. These fats will boost testosterone naturally, but they won’t raise blood levels of artery-clogging cholesterol.

Skip the Sugar

Every time you eat sugar, testosterone is decreased, likely because the sugar causes a high insulin level which can decrease the testosterone level.
Bottom Line: Low testosterone levels are a treatable condition that affects millions of men. There are options that don’t require medication that also improve your overall health and wellness.

Are Statins Responsible For Placing Your Sex Drive In the Tank?

October 22, 2014

Statin therapy prescribed to lower cholesterol also appears to lower testosterone, according to a new study that evaluated nearly 3,500 men who had erectile dysfunction or ED.

Current statin therapy is associated with a twofold increased prevalence of hypogonadism or low T a condition in which men don’t produce enough testosterone.

About one of six adults in the U.S. has high cholesterol, according to the CDC. The number of people using a statin (such as Lipitor or Zocor) rose from 15.8 million people in 2000 to 29.7 million in 2005.

The Italian study evaluated 3,484 men with complaints of sexual dysfunction between January 2002 and August 2009.

Of that total, 244, or 7%, were being treated with statins for their high cholesterol. Most often the statin was simvastatin (Zocor) or atorvastatin (Lipitor).

The researchers calculated the men’s total testosterone as well as free testosterone, the amount of unbound testosterone in the bloodstream.

When they compared men on statins to those not, the men on statins were twice as likely to have low testosterone.

The researchers emphasize they have found a link between statins and lower testosterone.

One possibility is that low testosterone levels and the need for statin treatment share some common causes.

Some researchers also have looked at the possibility that the statins’ inhibition of cholesterol synthesis may interfere with the production of testosterone, which depends on a supply of cholesterol. The statins may disrupt the body’s feedback mechanism to instruct it to make more testosterone.

Bottom Line: There appears to be documented study that links statin use to low testosterone. If you have symptoms of low T, lethargy, decreased sex drive, or erectile dysfunction and are using a statin, speak to your doctor. He will likely order a testosterone level and suggest hormone replacement therapy if the T level is low or provide you with suggestions to lower your cholesterol that don’t require the use of statins.

ED Prevention-It May Take More Than Take Two Aspirin In the Morning

March 19, 2014

Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects millions of American men. Most of the causes are do to physical reasons and many can be reversed. This article will discuss action steps every man can take prevent and perhaps reverse ED.

Most men will experience an occasional erection problem. However when ED occurs most of the time, it is an indication that action steps need to be taken and an evaluation of a doctor is in order.

Here are some steps to consider to prevent ED from rearing its ugly head.

Kick the butts in the butt. Numero uno on your ED prevention list is to stop smoking. For men under the age of 40, smoking is the biggest cause of erectile dysfunction.

That’s because maintaining an erection requires a healthy blood supply, and nicotine causes your blood vessels to constrict, and can even result in your penis shrinking in size. The longer you’re a smoker, the more difficult it is to treat or reverse erectile dysfunction.

Get off your butt and get moving. Regular exercise is a must for both your heart and circulation — and because of that, it’s also an important way to prevent ED.

Regular exercise can improve blood flow to the penis, as well as to the rest of your body. Not to mention, working out increases your energy, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, helps you sleep better, and makes you feel (and look!) more attractive — which are all helpers in avoiding erection problems.

Deep six the alcohol bottle. Sure, kicking back with a little booze is a great way to de-stress — but in large amounts, alcohol is a depressant. That means the more you drink, the more likely the alcohol will lead to erectile dysfunction (depression is one of the biggest causes of ED). This effect increases as you get older, so older men who are at greater risk for erection problems should take steps to limit the number of alcoholic beverages they consume. Talk to your doctor to find out if you should aim for less than the two-drinks-per-day maximum that’s often advised for men.

Fruits and veggies are an ED buster. A number of studies show that obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure are linked to erectile dysfunction. Since a healthy diet is one of the best ways to protect against these diseases, it makes sense for your sexual health to eat healthily. What foods should be a part of your ED-prevention diet? Lots of fruits and vegetables, plenty of fiber, and very little saturated fat. If you’re struggling with your weight or cholesterol, ask your doctor for help.

Floss and brush your teeth. 
Turns out, erectile dysfunction and chronic gum disease share many of the same risk factors. In one recent study, 80 percent of men who had severe erectile dysfunction (caused by poor penile blood supply) also had chronic gum disease. Keeping your mouth healthy with flossing, brushing, and regular dental visits is one more way to keep your sex life in tip-top shape.

Relax. 
Stress and anxiety are frequent contributors to erection problems. That’s because stress causes your body to release stress hormones that are good for your “fight or flight” response, but bad for your blood flow because it causes blood vessels to contract. To prevent ED, find ways to reduce stress (without resorting to drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol, of course).

Good Zzzzzzzs can be a game changer. 
Fatigue can be a detriment to your sex life — so getting plenty of rest before a romp in the hay is always a good idea. But if you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep and feeling drained throughout the day, you could have a condition called sleep apnea (which is signaled by very noisy snoring and periods of interrupted breathing). Studies show that men with erectile dysfunction are more than twice as likely to have sleep apnea, so if your partner is sleeping in the other room because of your snoring, talk to your doctor.

Bottom Line: ED is a devastating condition that can be a harbinger of other conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, depression, kidney disease and stroke. Take the steps provided in this article and you will have better erections and a much healthier life.

Dr. Neil Baum is a urologist in New Orleans and can be reached at (504) 891-8454 or through his website: http://www.neilbaum.com