Erectile Dysfunction and Vascular Health
At its core, erectile dysfunction is the disruption of a complex process that involves multiple systems in your body working together to increase blood flow. Though it is often identified as the primary problem, this can be a warning flag for underlying cardiovascular disease, even when other symptoms aren't immediately apparent.
According to Lambros Stamatakis, MD, director of Urologic Oncology at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, “In younger men who present with ED, we are taught to consider a full cardiovascular evaluation, as coronary artery disease can often be identified despite the lack of symptoms.”
This evaluation is especially important if the patient has no other typical risk factors, such as a known health condition, drug, alcohol or tobacco use, or injuries. A failure to respond to oral medications should also trigger concern that serious vascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis (hardening or narrowing of the arteries), may be to blame.
If You Are Suffering from Erectile Dysfunction
If you struggle with erectile dysfunction, the best course of action is to discuss the concern with your physician, or a specialist, such as a urologist. To prepare for your appointment, consider writing down any other health symptoms you've had – even if they may not appear related to your condition, at first glance.
In addition, note any other risk factors, such as the use of tobacco or alcohol, or recent injuries, as well as the name of all medications and supplements you're taking. Also, you should make note of any significant life changes that may be causing you stress. While vascular disease may be your immediate concern, you should provide as much information as possible, so all root causes can be given due consideration.
However, if your physician doesn't specifically mention vascular health as part of the conversation around your erectile dysfunction symptoms, ask him or her about any possible connection. Share any particular reasons for concern, such as recurring symptoms of ED, high blood pressure or a family history of cardiovascular disease.
While not everyone who has erectile dysfunction will also have a vascular disease, it is important to be aware of the connection between the two. If you are someone who struggles with the symptoms of erectile dysfunction, make it a priority to seek medical attention and be evaluated appropriately. Not only will you be helping your personal relationships, you will also be taking a proactive step to protect your own vascular health.