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Erectile Dysfunction may be Early Indicator of Heart Disease

Lewis E. Harpster, MD, FACS

While erectile dysfunction is not in itself a life-threatening condition, the presence of erectile dysfunction may be a warning sign for the presence of a more serious underlying disorder.  Several recent studies have shown that the symptom of erectile dysfunction can be an early indicator of previously undiagnosed cardiovascular disease.

Healthy erections depend on adequate blood flow to the penis during sexual arousal.  Atherosclerosis (peripheral artery disease), high blood pressure (hypertension), and diabetes mellitus are perhaps the three most common disease processes that can ultimately lead to vascular occlusion.  At the level of the penis, vascular occlusion manifests as erectile dysfunction.  At the level of the heart and the brain, vascular occlusion manifests as heart attack, stroke, even death.

Thankfully, most cases of erectile dysfunction do not indicate a serious problem.  But it is important for your doctor to screen for vascular diseases and underlying cardiovascular problems if you are experiencing erectile difficulties.  Earlier diagnosis leads to earlier treatment and improved cardiovascular outcomes.

Despite what many males believe, men do not need sex to survive.  Rather, in order to have sex, men do need to survive.  Get checked out.

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