Men with severe erectile dysfunction -- even with no personal history of cardiovascular disease -- had 8 times the risk of heart failure.
PROBLEM: About 40 percent of men over the age of 40 have frequent or occasional trouble getting or maintaining an erection, the causes of which can range from medications to stress. We've known that erectile dysfunction (ED) itself is sometimes associated with vascular disease, but it hasn't been quantified as an early indicator of heart disease in people who don't have the usual heart symptoms.
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METHODOLOGY: A cohort of almost 100,000 men over the age of 45 completed a questionnaire on their degree of erectile dysfunction (from "none" to "severe"). Using hospital admissions records and the government death record, Australian researchers followed up on the health outcomes for all of the participants several years after they had provided this information.
RESULTS: Men with no history of cardiovascular disease and severe ED had 8 times the risk of heart failure. Their risk of heart conduction problems was increased by a factor of 6.62, and their risk of heart attack went up by 1.66. They also had an increased risk of ischemic heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, and other causes of cardiovascular disease. Their odds of having died upon follow-up were twice those of men without ED.