Is ED An Early Indicator For Heart Disease?
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get and maintain an erection that is firm enough for satisfying sexual intercourse. This particular sexual dysfunction, although common, instills a sense of insecurity in those that experience it — from causing interpersonal concerns within a relationship and/or embarrassment and guilt in those experiencing it. What is not known to many, however, is that erectile dysfunction can be an early warning sign of cardiovascular or heart disease.
What is the link between ED and heart problems?
The biological processes that lead to an individual being diagnosed with heart disease, can also cause ED which often precedes the heart condition. While not all those with ED develop heart disease, there is a significant link between the two conditions, with studies revealing that if a male has ED, he is at a higher risk for developing heart disease.
A 2017 study [ED & Cardiovascular Disease] reported a strong association between ED and endothelial dysfunction. The endothelium is the inner lining of blood vessels — its dysfunction results in blood vessels being unable to dilate completely for blood flow.
Dysfunction in the endothelium is one of the early signs of atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque in the arterial walls and arteries, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Heart disease therefore can occur due to reduced blood flow to the heart due to atherosclerosis along with impairing blood vessel function. Erectile function is also highly dependent on adequate blood flow. Therefore, if an individual is experiencing ED, experts suggest it is the right approach to consider monitoring and maintaining one’s heart health. It is important to remember that endothelial dysfunction also commonly affects the blood vessels in the penis first.
While this information may be daunting for some, this does not mean that there aren’t ways that this can be managed. Heart health should be a priority regardless of ED symptoms, but those that have ED should always keep their heart health in check.
The good news is, lifestyle modifications can have an effective impact on both overall and sexual health. This includes eating a healthy diet, maintaining BMI through regular exercises, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption and managing lifestyle disorders such as diabetes, hypertension, and cholesterol. Reducing the risk of heart disease can help improve sexual function as well.
If you have questions about if your sexual health may be affecting your overall health, do not hesitate to consult with a professional. An andrologist, urologist, and/or psychiatrist can help you find the cause behind your ED symptoms along with treating any underlying medical conditions, should they find any. Your sexual and physical health go hand-in-hand — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
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