Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a forerunner of penile vascular oxidative stress and vascular dysfunction 1 and was suggested as a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Erectile dysfunction is also believed to be a secondary complication of diseases such as diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Instead, it is important to identify it as an early manifestation of atherosclerosis and a potentially important originator of vascular disease in several critical arterial beds, such as the coronary circulation and cerebro-vascular disease. Research conducted on the relationship between atherosclerosis and Erectile dysfunction indicates that ED is an early indication of cardiovascular disease (CVS), vascular disease, atherosclerosis, and vascular syndrome in the coronary circulation and cerebro-vascular disease.
Atherosclerosis is a term that is used to describe the build up of waxy plaque on the inner lining of blood vessels. This is more common in men with advancement of age. In case of male reproductory system, it slows down the blood circulation in the heart due to which the blood supply to the heart decreases. This leads to coronary heart diseases which affect the blood supply to the male organ for reproduction resulting in an imperfect or no erection. In a healthy male, the blood vessels dilate and are able to accommodate the sudden rush of blood in the male reproductive organ. This causes erection post sexual stimulation. Thus, it has been concluded that sexual dysfunction could hint at underlying heart diseases and should be treated as an early warning sign.
Studies conducted on men who have a history of atherosclerosis showed that more than 60 % of these men had been suffering from erectile dysfunction, even before the disease was detected. Post this, experts believe that men who are suffering from erectile dysfunction have high chances of suffering from heart diseases in future and should treat this as an early sign of heart disorder.
Medically this can be explained as the risk factors for coronary heart disease and development of atherosclerosis in the male reproductive organ are same. Since the arteries that supply blood to the male reproductive organ are small, the symptoms show themselves in the form of erectile dysfunction where as in the case of heart, the symptoms appear late as the arteries are larger.
There are many risk factors of cardiovascular disease that can lead to erectile dysfunction which include:
- Obesity: Men who are overweight run the chances of having cardiovascular diseases and erectile dysfunction.
- Diabetes: Men who are suffering from diabetes have damaged blood vessels that hinder the blood supply to the male reproductive organ.
- Hypertension: Men who are suffering from chronic hypertension may have damaged lining of the arteries which can accelerate the process of atherosclerosis. This can cause cardiovascular diseases and may later lead to erectile dysfunction.
- Smoking: Men are more habituated to smoking than women. Smoking damages the artery and in the long run may lead to cardiovascular diseases and erectile dysfunction.
Researchers have proved that if medical help is taken at the right time in men who are suffering from atherosclerosis, there will be fewer outcomes of myocardial infarctions and other fatalities.