Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is defined as the inability to attain or to maintain an erection. ED is most commonly experienced by aging men; however there is a small population of young men who also suffer from this condition. ED can profoundly affect a man’s self-esteem and it can place undue strain on his relationships. However, the effects don’t stop there. Research suggests that erectile dysfunction is indicative of several diseases including prostate cancer and diabetes, and it can actually be a precursor to numerous health disorders.
Erectile Dysfunction and Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is a broad term which encompasses heart attacks, heart arrhythmias, angina, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, strokes, and any disorder of the heart or blood vessel system. “We think that erectile dysfunction represents the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of a systemic vascular disorder; thus potentially preceding severe cardiovascular events,” states Dr. Emilio Chiurlia of Italy’s University of Modena. In fact, according to Sexuality, Reproductive and Menopause (SRM) Journal, severe erectile dysfunction increases a man’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 1.5 to 2.5 times over. In addition, aging men over the age of 49 who develop erectile dysfunction are almost 50 times more likely to experience a cardiac trauma within ten years, then men with healthy sexual function. The good news is that once a man first experiences ED, he usually has a 3 to 7 year window before cardiac disorders begin, thereby allowing a “window of curability,” states SRM.
Erectile Dysfunction and Blood Clots
C-reactive protein (CRP) is a substance that is produced by your liver in response to inflammation and it is indicative of a wide variety of health problems. Research has found CRP levels rise significantly in men with erectile dysfunction and elevated CRP increases the risk for the blood clots which are responsible for stroke, heart attack and other cardiovascular traumas.
Erectile Dysfunction and Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary Artery Disease is the most common type of heart disease and it is characterized by a build-up of cholesterol and other materials, cumulatively referred to as plaque, in the inner walls of the arteries. This plaque build-up eventually results in narrowed and hardened arteries and decreased blood flow to the heart. The penis has artery walls as well, and according to Dr. Chiurlia, plaque build-up and obstruction occurs earlier in the penis than in the coronary arteries because the artery walls of the penis are much smaller. Therefore if you are suffering from erectile dysfunction, it is extremely important that you get screened regularly for coronary artery disease.
Erectile Dysfunction and Peripheral Artery Disease
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is similar to coronary artery disease, in that they both involve various blocked arteries, however as the name suggests PAD affect the peripheral arteries such as the pelvis and legs. Research has found that men with moderate or severe erectile dysfunction are at a vastly increased risk for developing PAD once they are over the age of 50.
Erectile Dysfunction and Central Nervous System Disorders
Your central nervous system controls your ability to both have and maintain an erection. Although ED is not typically a precursor to nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, it is important to realize that it can be indicative of them.
ED as a Precursor to All Types of Disease
Many people falsely believe that disease is simply an inevitable part of aging. However, many aging associated diseases such as ED, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis are the result of peripheral factors such as the food we eat and the lifestyle we live. According to Holistic Medicine expert Dr. Ellen Kamhi, if you have erectile dysfunction you need to examine the emotional and spiritual aspects of your life, because they are the most important aspect of any illness. In other words, your ED is not caused by aging in and of itself; it is caused by an emotional or spiritual imbalance, and according to Dr. Kamhi that predisposes you to every type of degenerative disease and health disorder.