Having trouble achieving or keeping erections is common in
men with coronary artery disease, but they may not make the connection. One
survey of European men being treated for cardiovascular disease found that two
out of three had suffered from erectile dysfunction for months or years before
they were diagnosed with heart trouble. Recent studies on the connection
between ED and cardiovascular disease have been so convincing that doctors now
consider it the standard of care to do a full cardiovascular workup when a man
comes in complaining of ED, according to cardiologist Goldstein says. "In recent
years there's been pretty clear evidence that there's a substantially increased
risk of heart attack and death in patients with erectile dysfunction,"
Why it happens:
Just as arteries around the heart can narrow and harden, so
can those that supply the penis. And because those arteries are smaller, they
tend to show damage much sooner -- as much as three to four years before the
disease would otherwise be detected.
What distinguishes it:
In this case, the cause isn't going to be immediately
distinguishable. If you or your partner has problems getting or maintaining an
erection, that's reason enough to visit your doctor to investigate
cardiovascular disease as an underlying cause. "Today, any patient who
comes in with ED is considered a cardiovascular patient until proven
otherwise," says Goldstein.