By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
I’ve got news for you: Erectile dysfunction (ED) is likely not just a penis problem alone…. It may be a sign of a much greater health issue: heart disease.
Take Heed, Men, More than Just Your Sex Life May Be at Stake
Here’s what you need to know:
In 2010, German researchers first reported that erectile dysfunction (ED) is more than a localized problem of achieving an erection but that it is often a major predictor of general cardiovascular disease.
Since that time, other researchers have confirmed this troubling association that many, if not most men, are totally unaware of. Their findings indicate that arteries serving the penis, heart, brain, legs, and other parts of the body, are often affected by the same inflammatory process that impedes blood flow. In other words, there’s a common vascular pathology of damage to the sensitive lining of arteries.
This, in fact, is the most common cause of ED.
According to urologist David Brock of the Canadian Urological Association, the smaller blood vessels of the penis may be affected by inflammation and plaque “much earlier” than the larger coronary, carotid, and femoral arteries of the body, and men may thus develop symptoms of ED “long before” signs of cardiovascular disease show up.
These findings represent a huge wake-up call, as Dr. Brock makes quite clear in the title of his 2014 article in the Canadian Urological Association Journal: “Diagnosing erectile dysfunction could save your patient’s life.”
What does this mean to you? It means that if you develop erectile dysfunction at any age, even in your thirties and forties, as I have seen in my cardiology practice, don’t waste time seeing a urologist. While you are at it, get yourself screened for cardiac risk. Trouble may be brewing beyond your penis!
Moreover, as Dr. Brock points out, even mild ED that has an arterial basis (there are other causes as well, that I will also discuss in a moment) could definitely increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Most men immediately think of “the pill” – a prescription such as Viagra – at the first sign of ED. It certainly is OK for occasional usage, and for sexual performance, but it is not for regular use and not the best solution in consideration of ED as a cardiovascular issue requiring monitoring and perhaps treatment, or, at the minimum, a preventive strategy.
Such a strategy is beneficial for all men, and particularly important for those with diabetes and hypertension, which are forerunners to cardiovascular disease – it should include the following:
- Minimizing sugar and sweeteners in your diet that contribute to inflammation – stick to a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet like my PAMM diet, which is full of fresh veggies, fruits and legumes and healthy fats, as well as quality proteins like grass fed beef
- Antioxidants that build up nitric oxide (NO), an important biochemical that functions to keep arterial linings healthy and strong
- Omega-3 fatty acids (such as in fish or squid oil) that help reduce inflammation and increase NO
- Effective stress management
Here’s more information on this very important subject for men, including a video on the myth that the pill is the only remedy for ED, plus practical details on a number of lifestyle practices that can serve not only sexual performance and the health of your penis, but your cardiovascular and overall health as well.
- Brock G. Diagnosing erectile dysfunction could save your patient’s life. Can Urol Assoc. 2014. 8(7-8 Suppl 5):S151−152. Published online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4145704/
- Randrup E, Baum N, Feibus A. Erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease. Postgrad Me. 2015. 127(2):166-72. Published online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25526225
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