Erectile dysfunction is described as impotence, which means not having the ability to gain and keep an erection that is strong enough to perform sexual intercourse. There are numerous causes that involve physical and psychological elements that can lead to the development of this condition. Among men aged between 40 and 70 years, more than 30% experience erectile dysfunction at some level. The research found the most common cause of erectile dysfunction to be related to cardiovascular conditions, with atherosclerosis being the most commonly diagnosed condition in patients who experience problems with their sexual functionality.
Causes of Erectile Dysfunction
To gain an erection, blood needs to flow into the penis, and then the blood needs to stay inside the penis. An erection is the result of the brain sending a signal to the penis. This opens up the blood vessels and allows blood to flow into the two penis chambers. If something goes wrong during this process, then erectile dysfunction can develop.
High blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and high cholesterol are among the leading factors that cause problems in the bedroom. In fact, according to Cleveland Clinic, 70% of patients experiencing problems with their sexual abilities have some heart or vascular related condition. This causes the blood flow to the brain, heart and penis to be restricted. In particular, up to 60% of erectile dysfunction cases among men aged 60 and older are caused by atherosclerosis alone.
Diabetes, kidney diseases, treatment for prostate cancer and several neurological diseases can also effect a man’s ability to perform during sexual intercourse. Around 35% to 50% of men diagnosed with diabetes also have erectile dysfunction. Kidney diseases can lead to a lower sex drive due to the effects it has on the patient’s nerve function, levels of energy and hormones.
Linking Heart Disease To Erectile Dysfunction
In a study that was conducted by a team of medical professionals, a conclusion was made that heart failure and heart disease has a direct effect on the sexual abilities of a man. The study took into account a total of 62 male participants. The study included a 6-minute walk session for each patient to measure the performance of their heart before, during and after exercise. Alterations in the patient’s sexual functionality, as well as in their emotional and social functions were observed during the study. The study concluded that 75% of patients with advanced heart failure also suffer from erectile dysfunction. The level of satisfaction experienced during sexual intercourse also decreased as the heart condition started to develop further in patients. Among the patients who experience a problem with their sexual capabilities, approximately 25% has completely ceased from partaking in any sexual activity.
While heart disease is not always the cause of erectile dysfunction, research provides adequate proof that cardiovascular condition is the leading cause of sexual performance issues. It is believed that erectile dysfunction provides a sign to the patient about an underlying problem that is developing. According to Mayo Clinic, medical experts find that erectile dysfunction can be a sign that the patient is developing endothelial dysfunction.
Endothelial dysfunction is a condition that refers to the dysfunction of the vascular endothelium. The vascular endothelium is a vital organ in the human body that is involved in critical functions of vascular toning and structuring. The collection of cells has numerous functions, including:
- The maintenance of vascular tone
- Protecting vascular tissue from toxins
- Regulation of inflammation and blood clotting in arteries
- Controlling electrolytes and other substances that pass between tissue and blood
Endothelial dysfunction is present when one or more of these functions are not working as it is supposed to work. Very Well reports this problem to be related to a lower level of nitric oxide in the walls of blood vessels. This condition is usually present in patients who are suffering from high blood pressure or other cardiovascular-related conditions.
Erectile Dysfunction: An Early Sign of Heart Disease?
Many recent studies have turned their focus towards the connection between erectile dysfunction and heart disease. The fact that the majority of patients suffering from heart diseases and cardiovascular conditions are also suffering from erectile dysfunction adds more reason for experts in the industry to put a focus on this aspect in their studies. When a condition such as endothelial dysfunction is present in a patient, blood flow to their penis is usually restricted first because arteries in the penis are smaller than arteries in the heart and brain.
Heart conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes have been closely associated with erectile dysfunction in recent years. This is mainly because scientists have started to study the causes and conditions that relate to erectile dysfunction. Findings indicate that this condition can be a direct sign of another condition that is developing in the patient. Thus it is advised that patients experiencing problems in their sex life consult their doctor for further investigation. This could lead to the early detection of a developing disease, which means the disease can be treated with a higher success rate compared to diagnosing the disease after a relapse such as a heart attack or stroke.