ED linked with heart issues

Men’s problems in the bedroom may be a warning sign for more serious health issues later in life, says the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA).

The APA is urging men to get over their embarrassment and talk to health professionals about their sexual health – or die.

“Any form of cardiovascular disease is more likely to occur in men who have erectile dysfunction,” says urologist and past president of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America, Dr Ira Sharlip.

As erections are dependent on healthy blood flow. Erectile dysfunction (ED) could be a symptom of other circulatory or cardiovascular system problems, such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or high blood pressure (hypertension). 

ED is a common but often neglected condition due to its intimate nature and its prevalence increases with age. More than six in 10 men aged 45 or older report some form of dysfunction. Worldwide, the prevalence of ED is estimated to be 300 million by 2025.

And ED isn’t relegated to ‘not getting it up’. Episodes of ED may include premature ejaculation, problems with climaxing or changes to the shape or appearance of the penis including curvature (known as Peyronie’s disease). It can have a very significant negative impact on men and their partners but can be treated successfully.

“Most types of ED are related to issues such as infection, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, prostate abnormalities, anxiety or depression, medications, illicit drugs or alcohol consumption. However, a growing body of literature has identified erectile dysfunction as being associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD). This may often be overlooked when men present to their doctor, but erectile dysfunction has a similar or greater predictive risk for cardiovascular events than traditional risk factors, such as family history or smoking,” says APA men’s pelvic health physiotherapist Jo Milios.

“The research shows that erectile dysfunction usually precedes coronary symptoms by around three years and can therefore be considered an early marker of CVD. But this shouldn’t be seen as all doom and gloom,” says Ms Milios.

“In fact, if men are experiencing any concerns with their sexual function they have plenty of time to address the potential heart health concerns that may follow.”

The evidence linking ED with CVD has compelled the British Society of Sexual Medicine to encourage patients who present with ED to be thoroughly evaluated for cardiovascular risk factors.

“A men’s pelvic health physiotherapist is perfectly placed to treat and educate men presenting with erectile dysfunction. Pelvic floor muscle training is an effective and well established non-invasive technique to improve erectile dysfunction, and physio prescribed exercises can help with reducing the general risk of CVD in conjunction with treatment from their GP,” says Ms Milios.

“Don’t hold back from getting checked out, the earlier the better. Not only will it improve your bedroom form, it may just save your life down the track.”

Have you noticed a link between heart issues and ED? Have you been checked out? This week may be a good time to do it!

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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