Erectile dysfunction (ED) is often the first and earliest sign of a more significant cardiovascular condition, according to a study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. The study presents results from the Minority Health Institute (MHI) Expert Advisory Panel.
"Erectile dysfunction is not just a quality of life issue, but needs to be considered a significant public health concern associated with preventive cardiovascular medicine," states lead researcher and author of the article, Kevin Billups, MD. "The earlier a man is evaluated for ED, the better the outcome for maintaining good erectile function and good cardiovascular health."
Research suggests that medical evaluation for ED in patients needs to be integrated into an evaluation for cardiovascular risk as well. The study stresses that early recognition of ED, "particularly in high-risk and underserved minority populations" like African Americans and Hispanics, can lead to early diagnosis of previously undetected cardiovascular risk factors and subclinical vascular disease. African American men are 20% more likely to have ED than Caucasians, according the National Health and Social Life Survey.
While ED has traditionally been seen as a secondary complication to heart disease, diabetes, and other vascular illnesses, key findings in various clinical research studies have shown that ED was often present prior to the diagnosis of these other medical conditions. Because of this strong association, ED is now being considered an important barometer of a man's overall cardiovascular health and an early symptom of a more generalized vascular problem.
Adopting the ideas presented in this paper could have a significant impact on preventive cardiovascular health strategies," adds Dr. Billups.
The MHI recommends that all men aged 25 years and older should be asked about ED. Any signs of the problem should prompt physicians to aggressively assess whether or not the patient is at risk for cardiovascular disease.