No one can live without their heart. It’s responsible for pumping blood throughout the body and brain, facilitating the delivery of oxygen and nutrients around the body.
When the heart is not working at optimal levels, it can lead to a number of health problems, including heart disease. According to one study, being male has a 1.64x higher probability of heart disease susceptibility than being female.
Heart disease is a serious condition that can be deadly if left untreated. While a heart disease may be categorized as a birth defect or arrhythmia at times, it’s most frequently associated with the build-up of plaque in the arteries, which limits the blood flowing through the body.
Erectile dysfunction is a condition in which a man is unable to achieve or maintain an erection. It is a common problem that affects men of all ages, but it’s particularly common among older folks. While ED is often regarded as a multifactorial disease, erectile dysfunction may often coexist with heart disease.
One study was able to establish the same pathological connection between erectile dysfunction and heart disease: endothelial dysfunction. When there are problems in the vascular system— the system responsible for supplying blood to the rest of the body—it may be an early warning sign of erectile dysfunction.
Thus, ED symptoms may be a good indicator of underlying heart disease later on.
Let’s learn more about the link between erectile dysfunction and heart disease.
Is Erectile Dysfunction and Heart Disease Connected?
One condition that connects erectile dysfunction and heart disease is atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is the build-up of plaque in the arteries. This fatty substance can harden and narrow the arteries, making it more difficult for blood to flow through them.
When blood is unable to reach the entire body, it can lead to a multitude of health problems. This includes:
- Heart attacks
- Chest pain
For men, erectile dysfunction may also be a risk factor of atherosclerosis. In one study, men with erectile dysfunction have an increased risk of contracting coronary artery disease in the future.
This is because when the arteries are narrowed due to plaque, it can be difficult for blood to reach the penis. This can lead to difficulty getting and maintaining an erection.
Men may experience atherosclerosis in different ways, but it usually begins in the penis before spreading to other key organs such as the brain and heart. This can give you enough time to warn doctors to take action before a heart attack or stroke occurs in up to 3 to 5 years’ time.
Risk Factors of Erectile Dysfunction and Heart Disease
Erectile dysfunction and heart disease have similar risk factors as they’re affected by the same systematic dysfunction.
- High cholesterol: High levels of LDL cholesterol may be an indicator of atherosclerosis.
- Diabetes: The rate of diabetes for people with ED and heart disease is greater than that of healthy individuals.
- High blood pressure: HBP can diminish the effectiveness of blood vessels, which may consequently impair sexual function due to decreased blood flow. Some high blood pressure medications may also cause ED.
- Obesity: For men whose BMI exceeds the recommended threshold, there’s a higher risk of obese men developing ED and heart disease.
- Age: As we grow older, we become more susceptible to getting diseases. This holds true for both ED and heart disease.
- Substance abuse: Men who drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes are at an increased risk of developing heart problems and erectile dysfunction compared to their non-smoking and non-drinking counterparts.
If you are at risk of heart disease and erectile dysfunction (or have already been diagnosed), seeking treatment should be the next course of action.
Leaving cardiovascular disease untreated may cause symptoms to worsen over time—so it’s best to get treatment sooner rather than later.
Lifestyle Changes for Men Struggling with ED
With the right lifestyle changes, many ED patients can recover and regain sexual function.
A study involving 740 male participants found that sexual function improved following lifestyle changes.
These treatments are closely managed and monitored by a doctor. These treatment plans include:
- A heart-healthy diet with protein, fruits, and vegetables
- Increase in physical activities
- Reduction of vices like smoking and alcohol
- Managing stress levels
- Undergoing weight loss programs
It’s also important for ED patients to see a doctor to talk about their medical history and any medications that could be contributing to their condition. This is to avoid any side effects that could interfere with their treatment.
If necessary, doctors may prescribe different medications or therapies that can help improve sexual function.
By undergoing positive lifestyle changes and receiving proper treatment, many ED patients can improve their quality of life and reclaim their sex life.
Clinical Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction
There are many different clinical methods that are available to treat erectile dysfunction.
The most common type of treatment is oral medications that attempt to provide short-term relief for erectile dysfunction. While ED pills are popular, they come with a host of side effects. Some medications may even cause low libido in men, so it’s important to weigh your options, especially because it’s possible to keep an erection without pills. Additionally, these pills do not treat the underlying causes of dysfunction, only the short-term symptoms.
Doctors may also prescribe shockwave therapy for men with erectile dysfunction. Shockwave therapy uses high-energy sound waves to help improve blood flow and create new blood vessels in the penis. This type of treatment is deemed an effective and safe treatment for men with erectile problems.
Another treatment option is erectile dysfunction therapy, which is a highly customized treatment plan prepared by a medical professional who specializes in ED. This process begins with a one-on-one consultation with a doctor to review your medical history in order to provide a diagnosis to match the underlying causes of sexual dysfunction.
Finally, testosterone replacement therapy may also be recommended by doctors. This form of treatment is designed to improve sexual dysfunction in men by means of injections, patches, pellets, or gels.
Contact St. Louis’ Leading Men’s Health Clinic for an Erectile Dysfunction Consultation and Treatment Plan
Nowadays, experts believe that endothelial dysfunction is the main source of the link between erectile dysfunction and coronary heart disease.
Endothelial dysfunction dilates and narrows the passageway of blood, making it increasingly more difficult for blood to flow to the penis.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can treat this type of dysfunction, both at home and in a clinical setting.
The medical professionals at Paramount Men’s Medical Center in St. Louis specialize in treating conditions that impact men’s health, including erectile dysfunction. Our concierge approach positions your unique case at the centerpoint of our focus. We don’t just give you a pill for ED and send you on your way. We treat the underlying issues that led to conditions such as ED, Low Testosterone, and more. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.