Erectile dysfunction is not only a sexual issue. Several men worry about erectile dysfunction, but the real cause for alarm is the potential for heart disease. Erectile dysfunction is the inability or difficulty in maintaining an erection. Erectile dysfunction results from a blockage and a hardening of the arteries within the penis, which prevents blood flow to the penis in order to maintain an erection. Although erectile dysfunction is not a precursor to heart disease, it is a significant indicator of heart disease. The smaller arteries within the penis tend to become clogged much earlier than the arteries in the heart, which is why erectile dysfunction is an early indication of artery blockage in the heart.
Although erectile dysfunction can affect various men of different ages, some are more susceptible to it than others. Any condition that affects blood flow may contribute to erectile dysfunction and heart disease. Men who are at increased risk for erectile dysfunction and heart disease include: diabetics; those with hypertension; smokers; those with high cholesterol; those who are depressed; those who are overweight; and those who have a family member with erectile dysfunction and heart disease. Increased age can also be a factor for both erectile dysfunction and heart disease.
The medical term to describe a build-up of plaque within, and a hardening of, the arteries is Atherosclerosis. As indicated on WebMD, men who are 45 years and older have a 50 percent increased likelihood to have heart conditions and be hospitalized for them. For men who have cardiovascular disease and erectile dysfunction, the percentage is higher.
Although isolated incidences of erectile dysfunction may not be cause for alarm, it is important to see a doctor if there are increased occurrences of erectile dysfunction. The earlier a problem is detected, the better the recovery process. To ward off potential heart disease, it is important to improve dietary habits, increase physical activity, stay away from smoking and limit the amount of alcohol consumption.