Erectile Dysfunction: A Warning Sign of Underlying Cardiovascular Disease

Erectile Dysfunction: A Warning Sign of Underlying Cardiovascular Disease

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Once aroused during sexual interaction, a man can get an erect penis. This is due to the increased blood flowing caused by the opening of arteries and veins and then closing up simultaneously. Keeping the blood trapped within the corpora cavernosa, a spongy tissue that holds the blood, to maintain the pressure and keep the penis erect.

Though it may seem normal for men to lose the ability to keep an erection with age due to the decreasing level of testosterone, researchers found an astounding discovery.

Before, it was believed that as men age, their primary hormone called "testosterone" gradually declines together with their sex drive. Testosterone is responsible for the growth of muscles, body hair, bone mass, and reproductive tissues.

But according to Dr. Leen Antonio of KU Leuven-University Hospitals in Belgium, low testosterone level is not the sole indicator in predicting erectile dysfunction in men.

To back up their hypothesis about the relationship between hormone levels and impotence, they examined data from 2,000 men ages 40 to 79. These men participated in the European Male Ageing Study in older men between 2003 and 2005.

Their sex hormones were measured and were asked to answer questionnaires with regards to their sexual symptoms such as libido, erectile dysfunction, and morning erection.

Surprisingly, a quarter of men who participated in the research died in 12 years. These men are the ones who show sexual symptoms. It is concluded that men with erectile dysfunction and poor morning erection with low testosterone levels are more likely to die than those who don't regardless of their level of libido.

Low testosterone level is not the only cause of having erectile dysfunction. It might be a red flag for an underlying heart disease. Given that erection is primarily attributed to increased blood flow, there might be something in these arteries that interfere with the normal rush of blood.

"This means that in men with atherosclerosis [deposition of plaque in artery], the blood flow in the penile vessels is compromised earlier than in coronary arteries," Antonio said.

Thus early death might be observed in men experiencing erectile dysfunction.

Moreover, according to Dr. Michael P. O'Leary, a medical editor in Harvard said that erections can serve as a barometer for men's overall health.

This is not just a sexual problem but an indication that there's something wrong in your heart or elsewhere in your body.

Fortunately, there are ways to combat erectile dysfunction which includes exercising, proper diet, losing weight and treating heart disease, the possible culprit of this sexual symptom.