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Mehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answeredYou could call cardiovascular disease the ground zero of most erectile dysfunction (ED), or the inability to get and maintain an erection during sex. Cardiovascular disease squelches blood flow throughout your body. Less blood flow means less blood flowing into your penis—and softer erections or, worse, none at all. Here’s the depressing kicker: The medication used to treat cardiovascular disease, and its closely related companions, such as high blood pressure and congestive heart failure, also cause erectile dysfunction. So, if you don’t get ED from cardiovascular disease, you may develop it as a side effect of medicines used to treat your chronic conditions. You don't have to sit there and take it, though: Talk with your doctor about lifestyle changes you can make to prevent or treat cardiovascular disease.
Patients with cardiovascular disease may develop erectile dysfunction for one or more reasons. Many drugs used to treat congestive heart failure, hypertension and angina can cause or exacerbate erectile dysfunction. Beta-blockers, commonly used for all three conditions, as well as antihypertensive drugs, such as ACE inhibitors, can be implicated. Examples of beta-blockers are carvedilol or Coreg; atenolol or Tenormin; and metoprolol or Lopressor. Examples of ACE inhibitors are captopril and enalapril.
Psychological trauma of major illness or surgery is another way in which cardiovascular disease can cause erectile dysfunction. After the occurrence of such an event, the patient may be subconsciously afraid to engage in sexual activity, and this may manifest as erectile dysfunction.
Finally, occlusive disease, or obstructions, of the cardiovascular system may be generalized to other parts of the vascular system. Thus, a patient with coronary artery occlusive disease is more likely to have disease of the carotid arteries in the neck, which can lead to strokes. In the same way, occlusive disease of the blood supply to the genital organs may diminish blood flow to the penis and prevent the attainment of a successful erection.