Erectile dysfunction in men with diabetes may signal an increased risk of serious heart problems according to research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Dr Peter Chun-Yip Tong, of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, studied the problem in more than 2,000 diabetic men in their mid-50s, with no previous history of heart disease for up to seven years. Tong discovered that those with erectile dysfunction were almost twice as likely to suffer a heart attack, die from heart disease, develop chest pain associated with clogged arteries, or need surgical interventions along the lines of a bypass. Men with type 2 diabetes who also had a history of heart disease have an even higher risk of serious heart problems.
Commenting on the Hong Kong study in a statement to the Washington Post, Dr.Robert A. Kloner, a professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California said, "what is new here is that erectile dysfunction remained a significant risk factor for developing heart disease after controlling for other cardiovascular factors." Kloner also said, "men should know that erectile dysfunction is a true harbinger of atherosclerotic coronary heart disease."
The reason why erectile dysfunction is a good predictor of heart disease or stroke is that these conditions share a problem of arteries failing to expand fully. Because arteries in the penis are smaller than those in the heart, erectile dysfunction may act as an early warning sign of impending heart problems.
In a similar experiment to that carried out in Hong Kong, Dr Carmine Gazzaruso investigated 291 Italian men in their mid-50s. Dr Gazzaruso also independently established that those with erectile dysfunction were more than twice as likely to suffer from heart attacks, heart disease or strokes. Dr Gazzaruso also attempted to establish whether drugs such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction, have any protective properties against heart disease. Although some modest improvements were noted Dr Gazzaruso indicated they were not clinically significant and may have occurred simply by chance.
Men have a poor track record when it comes to seeking help and support for medical conditions. Suffering erectile dysfunction in silence because of embarrassment or other misguided motives may simply be avoiding clear signs of impending heart problems.
Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.