How many times have you actually visited your doctor to get your heart condition checked? We hardly do that. So many episodes of heart attack and chest pain come without any notice at all. But if you are suffering from erectile dysfunction or ED, it in itself is an indication that you might be susceptible to heart diseases sooner or later. Research also suggests,a person who has ED is as much at risk of a heart disease as someone having a history of coronary artery disease or smoking.

So what is ED? Erectile dysfunction is a man’s inability to achieve or maintain an erection, strong enough for sexual intercourse. Most men do have erectile dysfunction at one point or the other in their life. If in general, the episodes of ED are around 20% or less, then it might be attributed to factors like stress, or alcohol and treatment is rarely needed. But the failure to achieve or maintain an erection 50% or more time means that there is a psychological or physiological problem, that requires investigation and treatment.

So how is erectile dysfunction related to your heart functioning? Well, if you thought that in ED, your problem lies ‘down’ there, you are highly mistaken. Although there are many causes for erectile dysfunction, one of the main reasons is the lack of blood flow to the penis. To achieve an erection, there needs to be sufficient blood flow to the penis. This can be restricted if there is a problem with Atherosclerosis. In this condition, your arteries tend to clog, restricting the blood flow. So just like artery-clogging in the coronary artery can cause a heart attack, artery-clogging in the brain can cause memory loss, dementia or stroke, artery-clogging in the arteries supplying blood to the penis, can result in Erectile Dysfunction or difficulty in achieving an erection.

ED is although not necessarily a sure sign of a heart problem, still doctors prefer to suggest men with ED, to be screened for heart diseases, before starting any treatment. So, do you have anything to worry if you are young or below 40? Well, although studies suggest that ED increases with age, doctors believe that ED might not have much to do with age. Around 25% of people who have erectile dysfunction are 40 years or less. Also, with age, men might have difficulty in getting an erection without any external stimulation, but that doesn’t classify it as erectile dysfunction. Further with changes in lifestyle, men even in their twenties are nowadays equally susceptible to heart diseases.

So along with sharing of a common disease process, here are some common risk factors, shared by both erectile dysfunction and heart diseases, that one needs to be aware of:

  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol use and tobacco use
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Low Testosterone

Now that a link is established between erectile dysfunction and heart disease, is there a way in which you can prevent either or both? Yes, definitely you can by making some simple lifestyle changes like increasing your physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, quit smoking, reduce your alcohol intake, exercise, eat fewer fats and fried foods and try living a stress-free life.