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Saturday, June 16, 2018

Heart disease: Erectile dysfunction may double risk

Erectile dysfunction (ED) may be a bellwether of atherosclerotic disease (arterial blockages leading to heart disease and strokes). The penile artery is small (1-2 mm caliber) and is prone to the development of atherosclerotic plaques which block blood flow. Indeed, earlier studies 15 years ago indicate that the penile artery is more prone to early atherosclerotic obstruction than are coronary and brain arteries followed by peripheral arteries in the legs. Thought due to the effects of testosterone in male development, autopsy studies have shown atherosclerotic disease developing in boys as early as age 8. Thus by the 4th decade of life, many men may have had 30 years of accumulating atherosclerotic blockages (women have a delay in this process until post-menopausal then they rapidly catch up to men). Men who develop erectile dysfunction at age 40s versus at age 60s may be at higher risk for heart attacks and strokes. The two groups (ED in 40s vs. 60s) are almost completely different animals medially speaking with better health favoring those who develop ED in their 60s. Consider ED as an early warning. Suppose you were on a road trip and you encountered a sign saying "Danger Ahead. Detour course." Would you continue straight ahead or choose a different course with lesser risk? ED may be that early warning, "Danger Ahead. Detour course." Detour course means lifestyle changes--exercise, diet and controlling the common risk factors for atherosclerotic disease (smoking, high blood pressure, elevated lipids (cholesterol, LDL) and diabetes). Don't settle for the band-aid "blue pill" solution solely, but rather concurrently address the root cause. Speak with your primary care physician or with your urologist.
from Rajesh Harrykissoon, MD

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