A team of Polish researchers reports that men with ischemic heart disease have “worrying low awareness” of modifiable risk factors for erectile dysfunction (ED).
There is a close connection between ischemic heart disease and ED, the authors explained. In fact, erection problems are often an early marker for cardiovascular disease. For men over age 50, about 40% of ED cases are caused by vascular issues that limit blood flow to the penis. Without adequate blood flow, men cannot get a firm erection.
However, many of the risk factors for ED, such as smoking or obesity – can be controlled by patients themselves, at least to some extent. For example, men can take steps to quit smoking or lose weight. But do men know that such steps could improve their erections? This study examined men’s awareness of modifiable ED risk factors.
Five hundred two men with a mean age of 62 years participated in the study. All of them were undergoing cardiac rehabilitation for ischemic heart disease. They completed a survey designed to assess their awareness of six risk factors: smoking, overweight and obesity, hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and sedentary lifestyle.
Almost 38% were unable to name any of six risk factors under consideration. Only 6% could identify all of the risk factors.
Smoking was correctly identified by approximately 36% of the men, followed closely by obesity and overweight (33%). Diabetes and hypertension were each named by 32% of respondents. Hyperlipidemia and sedentary lifestyle were the least commonly named, at 20% and 17%, respectively.
“Given the fact that 34.38% of the surveyed men had secondary education and 22.41% reported higher education, the results obtained in this survey are unsatisfactory,” the authors wrote.
There were mixed results when patients had experience with a particular risk factor. For example, almost 56% of respondents with diabetes named this condition as a risk factor. It’s possible that diabetes education includes more information on ED. In contrast, only 27% of men with hyperlipidemia identified this condition, which the authors called “surprisingly low” considering general knowledge about high cholesterol.
They stressed that increasing patient awareness of ED risk factors is “essential” so that men can make healthy changes that may improve their erectile function.
The study was published online in December in the International Journal of Impotence Research.
International Journal of Impotence Research
Kałka, D., et al.
“Modifiable risk factors for erectile dysfunction: an assessment of the awareness of such factors in patients suffering from ischaemic heart disease”
(Published online: December 3, 2015)