Friday, March 19, 2010

Erectile dysfunction predictor of health, and death

Erectile dysfunction is more than an issue of sexual health. It is a strong predictor of death and cardiovascular health.

We’ve been lulled by the commercials into believing that erectile dysfunction is a mere annoyance, a minor blip on the sexual health screen that can be easily remedied by a pill in various convenient dosing options. But researchers warn that those sultry, idyllic, twin-bathtub-in-the-middle-of-nowhere images mask more sinister health threats associated with erectile dysfunction (ED). In fact, ED is a strong predictor of death from all causes and of heart attack, stroke and heart failure in men with cardiovascular disease, German researchers reported this month in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers found that men with cardiovascular disease and erectile dysfunction (compared to those without ED) were twice as likely to suffer death from all causes and 1.6 times more likely to suffer the composite of cardiovascular death, heart attack, stroke and heart failure hospitalization. More specifically, they were:

  • 1.9 times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease;
  • twice as likely to have a heart attack;
  • 1.2 times more likely to be hospitalized for heart failure;
  • 1.1 times more likely to have a stroke.

As if that weren’t bad enough, researchers said, too many men with ED don’t realize how poor their heart health is and how great their risk of death is because they don’t know they also have cardiovascular disease. They don’t learn of the other condition because they are successfully treated for erectile dysfunction by their primary health care provider or urologist. They aren’t referred to a cardiologist for an evaluation until their cardiovascular disease is advanced.

“Men with ED going to a general practitioner or a urologist need to be referred for a cardiology workup to determine existing cardiovascular disease and proper treatment,” study author Michael Böhm, M.D., lead author of the study and chairman of internal medicine in the Department of Cardiology and Intensive Care at the University of Saarland, Germany, said. “ED is an early predictor of cardiovascular disease.” Usually, though, that doesn’t happen, especially if the ED treatment was successful. “The medication works and the patient doesn’t show up anymore,” Böhm said. “These men are being treated for the ED, but not the underlying cardiovascular disease. A whole segment of men is being placed at risk.”

The study is an important reminder of how inter-related health conditions can be. Neglect one aspect of your health, and you may unwittingly make another worse. More importantly, too many people diagnosed with Condition A don’t realize their diagnosis puts them at significant risk for developing Condition B. While the link between ED and heart disease seems logical – both involve blood vessels, for instance – that’s not true for all linked conditions. Asthma and depression, for example. Some linkages may seem downright counter-intuitive, so it’s important to be an informed health care consumer.

Gentlemen, that goes for you: If you have ED, ask your doctor if a cardio workup is right for you.

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1 comment:

  1. I am simply out of words after reading your article. I want to appreciate the way you handled such a complicated subject.It sounds a very dangerous also.Thanks for the share!!!!!!
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