In addition to being an important health and quality of life issue for men, erectile dysfunction has long been associated with CV disease. Risk factors for erectile dysfunction and CV disease are similar — including older age, smoking, obesity, and diabetes, among others. In addition, multiple overlapping mechanisms lead to the development of both erectile dysfunction and CV disease.
In the article entitled “The relationship of erectile dysfunction and subclinical cardiovascular disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” Drs. Chukwuemeka Osondu (Baptist Health South Florida), Bryan Vo (Florida International University), Ehimen Aneni (Mount Sinai Medical Center), and colleagues sought to establish erectile dysfunction as a simple and effective marker of underlying subclinical CV disease. They hypothesized 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. They report 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 report 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. The authors identify this as an area in need of future study.