When men experience erectile dysfunction, they too often assume the issue is related to a sexual problem, but this is often not the case. In fact, ED can indicate underlying and otherwise hidden heart problems.
“Cardiovascular disease is among the leading causes of erectile dysfunction, but this too often goes unrecognized, putting the man’s heart at risk,” renowned cardiologist Dr. Chauncey Crandall tells Newsmax Health.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for more than 610,000 deaths, or one out of every four, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We usually think of cardiovascular disease as a narrowing in the large blood vessels, like the aorta of the heart,” says Crandall, chief of the cardiac transplant program at the Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
But, in fact, cardiovascular disease can cause a narrowing in the blood vessels throughout the body, Crandall notes.
“This narrowing impedes the blood flow to the penis, and ED is the result,” says Crandall, author of the Heart Health Report newsletter. http://crandallreport.com/
ED affects about 40 percent of men over 50 years old and is more common in men with cardiovascular risk factors.
But the fact that cardiovascular disease is a major cause of ED is too often overlooked, says Crandall.
In a recent survey of 2,000 men and women in the U.K., only about 10 percent of respondents ranked cardiovascular disease as a leading cause of ED.
Another misbelief is that the ED caused by cardiovascular disease affects primarily older man, but new research shows that this is not the case.
A team comprised of researchers from three South Florida medical institutions reviewed 28 studies of young men, which examined a link between ED and cardiovascular disease.
They discovered a “significant association” between ED and impaired endothelial function, which can be a sign of early cardiovascular disease.
“Our study supports a more aggressive [cardiovascular] disease risk assessment and management for persons with erectile dysfunction, including young men who may otherwise be categorized as low risk due to their young ages,” the study’s authors said.
“Referring men with ED for a cardiac workup could be a way of diagnosing cardiovascular disease earlier, and saving the hearts of these men,” agrees Crandall.
“If these men take steps to reverse their cardiovascular disease — such as losing weight, eating a heart-healthy diet, and exercising — this should also improve their ED. I’ve seen many men who follow my heart-disease reversal program not only improve the health of their heart, but they achieve enhanced sexual function as well.”
According to Crandall, these are the three other leading causes of ED:
Low T: “Low testosterone is probably the No. 1 cause of ED,” says Crandall. Testosterone, known as the “male” hormone, is not the only factor involved in keeping and maintaining an erection, but if it’s low, this can lead to a diminished sex drive and ED. Men who think they have low testosterone should have their level measured, and, if so, get treated.
Diabetes: The metabolic disorder causes high blood glucose levels, which can coat the body’s blood vessels, damaging them. High blood pressure also damages the body’s blood vessels, and high cholesterol can leave fatty deposits, narrowing them and impeding blood flow. “The vessels that bring blood to the penis are tiny and delicate and it doesn’t take much to plug them up,” says Crandall.
Medications: Certain cardiac drugs, including high blood pressure medications (such as diuretics) and beta blockers, are a known cause of ED.
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