When a man experiences erectile dysfunction (ED), the last thing he may be thinking about is his heart. But, studies have shown a direct link between heart disease and ED that necessitates a closer look at cardiovascular issues as a major factor in sexual dysfunction.
Since February is Heart Health Month, if ED is a problem, having a complete cardiovascular work-up can be a life saver.
Erectile Dysfunction – Not Just a Sexual Issue
Physicians at Chesapeake Urology say that men experiencing erectile dysfunction should have a thorough medical evaluation to rule out cardiovascular disease as a cause of an erectile problem. Vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), hypertension (high blood pressure) and high cholesterol can affect the blood vessels by restricting blood flow to the heart, brain, and to the penis, in the case of ED.
“When a man first experiences a problem achieving an erection, it’s certainly traumatic,” explains Marc Siegelbaum, M.D.director of the Erectile Dysfunction Program at Chesapeake Urology. “Most often, men don’t think about ED as a heart issue, but we know that there is sometimes a correlation that should be checked out.”
“Vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis affect not only the blood vessels supplying the heart, but also blood vessels that supply the penis. Ongoing erectile dysfunction is often a sign of an underlying health condition that should be addressed with a physician not just for sexual reasons, but for overall health,” says Dr. Siegelbaum.
Underlying Medical Conditions Often Linked to ED
Dr. Weinberg adds that in addition to cardiovascular disease, other medical conditions are also linked to erectile dysfunction including diabetes, obesity, and even sleep apnea. Stress, psychological issues, and certain medications can also lead to erectile problems, so a thorough evaluation by a physician is always recommended to identify the cause and determine the best treatment options for ED, as well as any underlying medical issues.