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The link between erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease

Fall is a great time to snuggle up with a hot cup of tea and read. So why not start your cold weather reading season with an article about erectile dysfunction (ED). Yep, we are starting the Unpopular Science’s awkward, unmentionable health issues series with a direct hit below the belt. Giggle and blush if you must, but this information just might save your life or the life of someone you love.

While there is information abound about little blue pills, it isn’t common knowledge that ED is often the first sign of cardiovascular disease. What!?!?! Who knew that a moment of poor performance in the bedroom is actually your body telling you it needs help?

The basic anatomy is this; we know that arteries getting clogged can lead to cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and strokes. All of these arteries are also what allows blood to flow to the penis and become erect; no blood flow, no erection. Simple as that. Now please make note, there are other causes of ED such as nerve damage, emotional trauma, etc. so please don’t panic that a heart attack is around the corner over one incident of ED, just know that all of the signals our body is sending are cause for us to listen, and if able, heal.

What we are focusing on in this article is the cardiovascular aspect and information presented by Yannas, et al. (see link below) who point out that ED is often one of the early warning signs of cardiovascular disease. Meta-analysis of multiple studies showed a 59% increased relative risk of ischemic heart disease and a 34% increased relative risk of stroke if a person has a history of ED. But wait there’s more, and this is something I want you to really pay attention to. While factors like cholesterol, age, lifestyle, and high blood pressure are well recognized predictors in heart disease and used to determine risk, there are people with heart disease who do not fall into the stereotypical high risk categories, especially when related to age. In one study reviewed, (listed in section 5) there was a 50-fold increase of risk of heart disease in men ages 40-49 (those considered at low risk) if they had a history of ED. Yikes! That’s not nothin’ y'all.

So the take home message is this: if you or someone you know has erectile dysfunction, get tested for and start making lifestyle changes to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

My website will be undergoing a few changes in the not so distant future. So the next time you visit the site it might look a little different, but it will have the same healing vibrance it has always had. Looking forward to see you next month where we continue the awkward health issues series.

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