Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

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."

1 | 2

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
Home Healthcare

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner