WASHINGTON: Young men with erectile dysfunction may be at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease - a leading cause of death worldwide, a study warns.
In addition to being an important health and quality of life issue for men, erectile dysfunction has long been associated with cardiovascular (CV) disease.
According to the study published in the journal Vascular Medicine, risk factors for erectile dysfunction and CV disease are similar - including older age, smoking, obesity, and diabetes, among others.
Multiple overlapping mechanisms lead to the development of both erectile dysfunction and CV disease.
Researchers Chukwuemeka Osondu from the Baptist Health South Florida, Bryan Vo from the Florida International University and Ehimen Aneni from the Mount Sinai Medical Center in the US sought to establish erectile dysfunction as a simple and effective marker of underlying sub-clinical CV disease.
They hypothesised that "measures of erectile dysfunction could be a simple effective CV disease risk stratification tool, particularly in young men who are less likely to undergo aggressive CVD risk assessment and management." The authors conducted a systematic review and meta- analysis of 28 studies that examined the link between erectile dysfunction and measures of early CV disease.
The study suggested a significant association of erectile dysfunction with impaired endothelial function (measured by brachial flow-mediated dilation using ultrasound), a marker of the ability of blood vessels to relax that is an early event in vascular disease development.
In addition, the authors reported that erectile dysfunction was associated with increased carotid intimal medial thickness (carotid IMT), an early manifestation of atherosclerosis.
The results for the association of erectile dysfunction and coronary artery calcium scoring were inconclusive due to small number of studies with limited sample size.
"Our study findings indicate that (young) men (with erectile dysfunction) are at greater risk of having identifiable sub-clinical CV disease and will benefit from an active CV disease work-up," the researchers said.