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Diabetes Health Center

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ED May Predict Heart Disease in Diabetic Men

Study Shows Erectile Dysfunction Bigger Predictor Than Blood Pressure, Cholesterol Levels

A Three-Way Connection continued...

But even in men without diabetes, problems with erections could be an early warning sign of impeding heart disease, especially when impotence occurs at a younger age.

Earlier this year, researchers from St. Paul Heart Clinic in Minnesota reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that erectile dysfunction might be an early warning sign of damaged blood vessels that can result in an increased risk of heart attacks or strokes. They showed that men in their 40s who had erectile dysfunction but otherwise appeared to be healthy had subtle problems seen on testing their arteries. This indicated that although these men appeared healthy, they had heart disease.

Still, Gazzaruso says his study is the first to look at how both diabetes and ED could predict the risk of "silent" heart disease that often strikes men with diabetes.

No Warnings, Serious Results

"In diabetic patients, cardiovascular disease may be silent and is asymptomatic more frequently than in non-diabetic patients," Gazzaruso tells WebMD. "It's a strong predictor of coronary events and early death, especially in diabetic patients."

In his study, to be published in the July 6 issue of Circulation, Gazzaruso's teamevaluated the presence of erectile dysfunction and other heart disease risk factors in 133 diabetic men with heart disease and 127 diabetic men without heart disease.

While the men with heart disease were twice as likely to smoke and have a slightly higher family history, no heart disease risk factor was as widely different between the two groups of men as erectile dysfunction.

A third of diabetic men with heart disease suffered from erectile dysfunction, compared with fewer than 5% of men with type 2 diabetes and no coronary heart disease.

What does this mean to you?

"Patients should not deny the presence of erectile dysfunction and inform their physician if they problems. On the contrary, the patient should spontaneously inform his physician on his ED," Gazzaruso tells WebMD. "It also means that physicians always should investigate the presence of ED in diabetic patients."

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