A new study gives us reason to revisit one of our most popular health stories of 2012: erectile dysfunction and its link to cardiovascular health.
There is a direct correlation between the severity of self-reported erectile dysfunctions and an increased risk for cardiovascular-disease-related hospitalization and death, according to a study published in PLOS Medicine.
Australian researchers looked at these two factors in the health records of a controlled group of 95,038 men, 45-years-old and up. They found that men who reportedly had severe cases of erectile dysfunction and no history of cardiovascular disease had a 35 percent increase in the risk of hospitalization for all heart-related diseases, and a 93 percent increased risk of death. And for those who did have heart issues and severe ED, those risks jumped to 60 percent for hospitalizations and 137 percent for dying. The study reported 2,304 participants died and 7,855 were hospitalized for heart problems during more than two years of follow up.
The reason why the seemingly unrelated issue of having difficulty maintaining an erection is connected to heart disease is because the penile arteries' small size make them prone to blocking, similar to the heart. The same things that cause the narrowing and hardening of your heart's arteries -- high cholesterol, hypertension and/or smoking -- can affect your penis, preventing blood flow to your penis, which leads to having difficulty maintaining an erection.
By treating the issues that cause heart problems, some men find their erections return, Dr. Kevin Billups of John Hopkins Hospital told Huff/Post50 last year. "ED is the symptom that gets the guys' attention," he said, but noted that it's important to take care of your cardiovascular health first.