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Is erectile dysfunction the result of heart disease?

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a complicated problem that involves the brain, hormones, nerves, muscles, blood vessels, and emotions. When you have ischemic heart disease (narrowing or blockage of blood vessels), the following factors can contribute to sexual problems:

  • It is possible that blood vessels in the penis may become clogged with a fatty substance called plaque, much like the arteries in your heart. Without adequate blood flow to the penis, it becomes more difficult to obtain and maintain an erection.
  • When you also have diabetes, which affects many people with heart disease, neuropathy (the long-term damage to your nerves as a result of high blood sugar) may affect your ability to obtain and maintain an erection.
  • Certain heart medications such as beta-blockers may affect the physiological steps involved in sexual arousal. 
  • And especially if you have had a heart event, psychological factors may also get in the way of an erection. You may be afraid that sex will strain your heart, cause more heart problems, or even cause death.

Talking about your heart-related sexual activity concerns with your doctor will help alleviate your fears and help you find the underlying causes of ED so that you may start looking for solutions.

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner
Erectile dysfunction (ED) may be an early warning sign of heart disease. Studies show that ED often happens before heart disease is diagnosed in men. If you have ED, get checked out by your doctor or a cardiologist. Prompt treatment of  heart disease can help you live an active life, and restore your ability to have a fulfilling sex life.
It sure can be. Most cases of erectile dysfunction (ED) have physical causes, and the most common ones are cardiovascular. Your blood needs to flow well, so your penis can get hard and stay that way long enough to have satisfying sex. The same cardiovascular problems that can lead to heart disease just might affect your penis first. These include high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol levels. Think of your penis as a health dipstick. It’s your early warning system. If you are having problems with blood flow down below, it’s a wakeup call to pay more attention to your cardiovascular health. See your doctor to check out your heart’s health. It is certainly possible that your ED is the result of other causes, but a cardiovascular problem is the most common cause.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.