ED Can Be Good News
If you are determined to look on the brighter side of life, the first signs of Erectile Dysfunction can be seen as good news – because they are bringing you or your partner an early risk warning for cardio-vascular disease.
And that’s good news because ED may precede more serious events – like a heart attack – by three or four years. And that’s early enough to do something positive about it if you take notice and get yourself checked out.
Several studies have shown that men with ED have a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease – heart attacks and strokes.
Many of the causes of ED are also risk factors for atherosclerosis; the condition in which fatty plaque builds up in blood vessels, causing restricted blood flow.
ED and Heart Attack Link
If the penile artery gets blocked, you get ED. But if an artery to the heart is clogged, the result is a heart attack. And if this happens in an artery leading to the brain, the result is a TIA or stroke.
The key says Dr Myles Spar in the Huffington Post is that the same things that cause blockages in the arteries to the heart and brain cause blockages in the penile artery.
But, because the penile artery is smaller than these other arteries, the first symptoms of such blockages may be felt in the penis.
Seven Steps If You Have ED
These are Dr Spar’s recommendations for checking out whether your ED is an early sign of cardio problems.
1 – See your doctor for an atherosclerosis check up
2 – Have your blood sugar checked
High blood sugar, or Diabetes, is a large risk factor for atherosclerosis and also damages the nerves, causing a double whammy effect on erections. If your blood sugar is high, it can be treated with diet, oral medications or insulin.
3 – Have your blood pressure checked
High blood pressure is often asymptomatic, but still causes damage to blood vessels making them more likely to be clogged with plaque.
4 – Find out if you are overweight
Being overweight is a common risk for atherosclerosis. Even without such hardening of the arteries, studies have shown that losing weight directly improves erectile function.
5 – Have your cholesterol checked
High cholesterol is a key risk factor for building up fatty plaque in the arteries, including the penile artery. Your total cholesterol as well as LDL, HDL and Triglycerides should all be checked if you have ED. If your LDL or Triglycerides are high or your HDL is low, treating these with diet, exercise, supplements and/or medications could reverse some of the plaque build up and improve symptoms of ED.
6 – Have your Testosterone checked
Low Testosterone is another cause of ED, separate from the atherosclerosis cause discussed here. But low T can and should be treated, thereby improving ED.
7 – Ask your doctor about other tests for cardiovascular health
Doppler ultrasounds of the carotid arteries, CRP and homocysteine levels are all important (albeit controversial) measures of cardiovascular disease risk.