Is Erectile Dysfunction a Warning Sign of Cardiovascular Disease; Five Things You Need to Know

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) has become a medical runaway train in recent times. Studies find that 5 in every 10 men have been troubled by ED or at the very least experienced an episode at least once in their lifetimes. With the condition becoming more rampant, there has been a widespread hypothesis online that has surfaced linking ED to heart disease. So how is erectile dysfunction related to heart disease? And is it even a risk factor for cardiovascular disease in the first place? Let’s get you those answers. 

ED can elevate cardiovascular risk by more than twice

In the past, the connection between erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease hasn’t always been as clear as day and night. That’s because this condition can be brought about by a myriad of other issues, from stress to smoking and much more. 

However, there is a good chance that the onset of ED might be the manifestation of some of the symptoms of a heart disease that’s yet to be diagnosed. This is in line with findings by a landmark trial published in the JAMA, which was designed to get to the bottom of cardiovascular disease and ED. 

Here are snippets of what the research team dug up: 

  • ED raises the risk of cardiovascular illness by up to 250% 
  • Erectile trouble can result in adverse events like stroke, and cardiac arrest
  • Hypertension could also be the cause of ED 

Most commonly, ED has over the years proven to be a red flag for atherosclerosis. This is a heart condition when plaque builds up in the arteries, hindering blood flow to the heart, and subsequently reducing the amount of blood that gets to the groin as well. The good news is that erectile dysfunction occurs during the early stages of this heart disease, providing a wake-up call to get treatment promptly. 

Having ED doesn’t always equate to heart problems

Is erectile dysfunction heart related? It can be. But then again, it may also have nothing to do with cardiovascular issues. As a matter of fact, some of the leading causes of ED are mental health challenges such as anxiety and stress, which most, if not all, men face at some point.

When your mind is off its game, blood flow might not work as it should to trigger an erection. That’s because stress and anxiety disorient communication between the mind and organs, thus leading to the inability to rise to the occasion.  

Beyond the challenges from within, other factors from without can also be to blame. For instance, erectile dysfunction has also been shown to be a consequence of:

  • Smoking: when it becomes a habit, smoking can disrupt your circulatory system and knock it off its game
  • Alcohol: Too much alcohol impairs cognitive ability, including the ability of the brain to manipulate blood flow accordingly
  • Medication: Intake of common medications such as diuretics (blood pressure meds) can also trigger erectile dysfunction 

If ED episodes are sporadic, this may be perfectly normal. When they start occurring with consistent regularity, that’s when there is cause for concern. 

An ECG test is a reliable way to diagnose ED-linked heart disease 

Erectile dysfunction is conventionally more straightforward in terms of diagnosis. You can easily pick up on the signs without even needing to consult a physician. If you are experiencing problems around erectile dysfunction and are wondering if there could be more to it than meets the eye, your doctor might recommend an ECG test.

An ECG, or electrocardiogram in full, can help your physician to better understand whether your ED is a sign of a more serious underlying condition. It’s worth noting that heart-disease ED may manifest with little to no symptoms hence the need for more comprehensive diagnostics. 

To clear doubts about the cause of ED, doctors may also pursue other diagnostic options entailing: 

  • Psychological examination
  • Ultrasounds
  • Urinalysis 
  • Blood test
  • Physical examinations and more

Many ED cases are caused by peripheral artery disease

A bold report by REDI Diagnostic Corp claims that the majority of the time erectile dysfunction points to the heart condition peripheral artery disease or PAD for short. The study results allege that for every 10 cases of ED, PAD is to blame for 7 of them. 

While there’s room to debate their discoveries, there is logic in ED being tied to a notorious chronic illness like peripheral artery disease, which occurs similarly to atherosclerosis. In fact, PAD is usually a result of atherosclerosis but usually affects the lower part of the body.

Like atherosclerosis, the arteries constrict in terms of volume, as plaque such as cholesterol, fats, etc. accumulate on the inner linings. This narrowing leads to poor circulation and therefore trouble with getting and sustaining erections. 

It’s also worth pointing out that ED may also be a symptom of CKD, or chronic kidney disease, given that 8 in 10 CKD patients exhibit erectile dysfunction. 

ED supplements and medication don’t cause cardiac events

Viagra is a popular medication used by ED patients, and there is overwhelming speculation online that suggests adverse cardiac events are a consequence of taking certain ED medications, most notably Viagra. 

So do ED pills cause heart problems? No. This hypothesis is frankly far-fetched as nothing could be further from the truth. There is an absence of documented evidence to support this claim, but, on the flip side, there is proof that Viagra can, if anything, lower the probability of a heart attack by 25%. This is according to a report by Everyday Health. 

Even for patients already managing a stable heart illness, studies have shown ED treatment solutions like Viagra still have no negative impact on their condition. 

Get help as soon as possible 

ED has been associated with an array of heart diseases like atherosclerosis. But having erectile dysfunction does not always spell impending cardiovascular doom. Nonetheless, the condition still warrants a trip to your physician’s office. For assistance managing ED with bespoke solutions, get in touch with our compounding pharmacy. Compounded drugs are the way to go if oral medications like Viagra are out of the question, or when you require medication that addresses your body’s unique needs.