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Men with ED should have heart tests
[Posted: Thu 20/05/2010 by Deborah Condon www.irishhealth.com]
All men who experience impotence should undergo thorough medical testing to assess whether they have coronary artery disease (CAD), international experts have said.
The experts made the call after an extensive review revealed that a significant proportion of men with erectile dysfunction (ED) exhibit early signs of CAD.
The experts from Europe and the US analysed the findings of more than 100 studies on the links between the two conditions.
They found that ED in otherwise healthy men and those with type 2 diabetes may be associated with the early signs of CAD, including reduced blood flow and calcification of the arteries. In fact, in around two-thirds of men, CAD is preceded by ED. The association in younger men, aged between 40 and 69, is much clearer than in men over 70.
The experts noted that men with ED generally exhibited more severe CAD and dysfunction in the left ventricle of the heart than those without ED.
They found that men with ED often develop coronary symptoms within two to three years of impotence and actually experience a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack, within three to five years.
The experts emphasised that it is essential that doctors stabilise cardiovascular function and control any symptoms before even considering initiating any ED therapy.
They said that the link between the two conditions could be due to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which leads to restricted blood flow.
"It has been suggested that because the arteries supplying the penis are smaller than those supplying the heart, they will be affected by reduced blood flow - a major cause of ED - before the symptoms of CAD develop" explained Dr Graham Jackson, a London-based cardiologist and chairperson of the Sexual Advice Association.
He pointed out that this theory may underpin the findings that men with ED seldom report overt symptoms of CAD, but those with CAD often report pre-existing ED symptoms.
"The evidence supporting the relationship between ED and cardiovascular disease has continued to increase over recent years and yet recognition of the association remains limited among healthcare professionals and the general public.
"Clinicians who specialise in managing ED support the evidence that ED is a critical predictor of cardiovascular disease and that men with ED therefore face an increased risk," Dr Jackson added.
Details of these findings are published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.
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For more information on ED, click here
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