Happy, Healthy, and Hard
Experts explain the connection between a man's overall health and his sexual health.
As the saying goes, the best measure of a man's character is the company he
keeps. But what about his health? According to Steven Lamm, MD, the best
measure of that is his erect penis.
In his book, The Hardness Factor, Lamm argues that a man's overall
health directly affects the quality of his erections. And if the promise of
longer life isn't enough to convince men to take care of themselves, the
promise of harder erections might be.
"It's still the greatest hook to get men to make some real changes," says
Lamm, who practices internal medicine in New York City.
Since The Hardness Factor came out in 2005, it has become hard to
deny the importance of erections in men's health.
By the early 2000s, it was clear that men with heart disease were more
likely to develop erectile dysfunction (ED). But recent studies have shown that
the association goes the other way, too. In seemingly healthy men, ED may be an
early sign of heart disease.
Early Warning Sign
Here's a quick look at three studies showing a link between heart
disease and ED.
The most recent of those studies, published in the journal Mayo
Clinic Proceedings in 2009, showed that ED may predict future heart
disease. The 1,400 men who took part in that study had never been diagnosed
with heart disease. But over the next decade, men with ED were 80% more
likely to develop heart disease than men without ED -- regardless of
smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and weight.
Men in their 40s who had ED had the most dramatic increase in
heart disease risk. They were more than twice as likely to develop heart
disease as men of the same age without ED.
Another study, published in The Journal of the American Medical
Association in December 2005, tracked heart disease risk and ED in more
than 9,000 men age 55 and older. The key finding: After accounting for
other risk factors, men with ED were 45% more likely to develop heart disease
over a five-year period. That's about the same increase in risk that has
been linked to smoking or high cholesterol, the researchers noted.
The third study, published in the journal European Urology in
September 2005, showed that men with moderate-to-severe ED were 65% more likely
to develop heart disease over a 10-year period compared with men who didn't
have ED. That study included about 2,500 Austrian men age 30-69.
Hardening of the Arteries
There is little doubt about the common cause of ED and heart disease. It's
atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries.
In atherosclerosis, fatty deposits build up inside arteries and form a
plaque, making the walls of the arteries stiff and restricting blood flow.
Eventually, chunks of plaque may break off into the bloodstream and lodge
somewhere else, where they block blood flow. If a blockage forms in the heart,
it causes a heart attack; in the brain, it causes a stroke.