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Is erectile dysfunction a warning sign of heart disease?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)
Both cardiologists and urologists recognize that erectile dysfunction (ED) can be a warning sign for cardiovascular disease. That's because cardiovascular disease and ED share many of the same risk factors -- high blood pressure, diabetes, abnormal cholesterol levels, overweight, depression, smoking and inactivity. The same mechanism that damages blood vessels in the heart does the same in the penis. In fact, the risk for heart disease is so high among men with ED that it is assumed they have heart disease until proved otherwise. This is why I tell men with even mild cases of ED  that they must get screened for heart disease.
Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Erectile dysfunction (ED) may be a caused by another health condition or may be a sign of one. ED can be a warning sign of heart disease. Often, when a man sees his doctor to discuss ED, an exam finds that he also has cardiovascular (heart and vessel) disease.

Over time, heart disease can cause stiffness and narrowing of blood vessels all over the body, including those that direct blood flow to the penis during arousal, causing problems getting or maintaining an erection.

A recent study from the American Heart Association showed that men with both heart disease and ED were twice as likely to have a heart attack, and nearly twice as likely to die, as men with heart disease but no ED. The study concluded that erectile dysfunction should be considered a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Your doctor can recommend lifestyle changes including quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, losing weight and increasing physical activity. 

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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.