Erectile Dysfunction May Be More Than A Sex Problem

Heart patients with erectile dysfunction may be more likely to die.

ByABC News
March 15, 2010, 8:04 PM

March 16, 2010— -- Among patients with heart problems, those with erectile dysfunction, or ED, are far more likely to suffer heart attacks or die from heart problems in the near future, a new study suggests.

The research, released Monday, took a look at more than 1,500 men who received treatment for heart disease over a roughly four-year period.

The findings did not bode well for those who experienced erectile problems along with their heart issues. The researchers found that treatment for heart disease did little to help erectile dysfunction in men with this problem. But more troubling was the finding that men who experienced both erectile dysfunction and heart problems were twice as likely to die over the course of the study than those who had heart problems alone. The men with erectile dysfunction also faced a doubled risk of heart attack.

"I think we need to bear in mind that if somebody has erectile dysfunction, we really need to treat them," said Dr. Koon Teo, a professor in the department of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and one of the researchers on the study.

But the study further indicates that, when faced with men who have erectile dysfunction, doctors should not simply write them a prescription for a pill like Viagra or Cialis and send them back out the door.

"The medication works and the patient doesn't show up anymore," said Dr. Michael Bohm, the chief cardiologist at the University of the Saarland in Germany and the primary investigator for the study, in a statement. "These men are being treated for the ED, but not for the underlying cardiovascular disease. A whole segment of men is being placed at risk."

Other researchers said the study adds to a growing body of literature suggesting that erectile dysfunction may be a warning flag for a larger problem.

"This study adds greatly to what we know about ED and mortality risk, which is relatively little at this point," said Andre Araujo, director of epidemiology for the New England Research Institute.