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What Does Erectile Dysfunction Mean For Your Heart Health?

Males often hesitate to tell their doctor about problems they are experiencing. This becomes most apparent when the problem affects their performance in the bedroom. However, medical professionals now realize problems in the bedroom may be a sign of a bigger health issue. For instance, they may suggest the man’s heart health is suffering. What does every male need to know today when visiting their physician? 

Heart Health and Bedroom Performance

Men suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED) have a higher risk of heart disease. In fact, it equals the risk associated with smoking or a family history of coronary disease. People often assume it is a psychological problem, but it is because of a problem with the blood vessels in the body. These same blood vessels supply other parts of the body, which is why it is important for a man to tell their doctor if they are having problems performing in the bedroom. 

What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is a condition in which a man cannot achieve or sustain an erection to engage in sexual intercourse. People often assume this problem occurs mostly in older men and is nothing to worry about. It’s simply a part of the aging process. However, that is not the case. Erectile dysfunction differs from low sex drive, infertility, and premature ejaculation, although men might suffer from one or more of these conditions along with the ED.

Why Is This an Issue?

Researchers once believed plaque buildup in the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis, was why erectile dysfunction often came before heart problems. They believed this buildup interfered with normal blood flow to the genitals, which led to difficulty in getting an erection. However, as they learned more, they realized this was not the case. 

Today, researchers feel the inner lining of the blood vessels and smooth muscle don’t work properly. They refer to this inner lining as the endothelium. When it malfunctions, it affects the blood supply to the heart along with the blood flow to the penis. This leads to the development of atherosclerosis. Individuals struggling with ED should see urologists in Myrtle Beach, SC to learn more about what steps they should take to receive proper treatment for both conditions. 

High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fat that circulates in the blood. The body naturally makes cholesterol, regardless of a person’s diet. However, certain foods also contain this fat. The cholesterol produced by the body is enough to keep a person healthy, but many people consume excessive cholesterol in their diets, and this can lead to heart disease. 

When a doctor evaluates a person, they look at their total cholesterol. They also look at the ratio of HDL or good cholesterol to LDL or bad cholesterol. The doctor determines the number of risk factors the person has for heart disease and their current health status. Finally, they take their age and activity level into consideration. 

Excess LDL cholesterol in the body makes its way into the arteries responsible for supplying the heart and brain with blood. When the cholesterol combines with other substances in the arteries, plaque forms. This hard, thick deposit brings about atherosclerosis. As the plaque accumulates, it narrows the passageways in the arteries, making it harder for blood to move through the vessels. This reduces the supply of blood to both the heart and penis. 

Other Health Issues That May Lead to ED

Vascular disease serves as only one health condition that may lead to erectile dysfunction. Men with diabetes may have nerve and artery damage and find they cannot achieve or sustain an erection. Kidney disease can lead to chemical changes in the body that lower the sex drive or sexual ability of a male. In addition, medications used to treat this condition could bring about ED. 

Certain nerve and brain diseases bring about erectile dysfunction, as the nervous system plays a role in a male’s ability to achieve and sustain an erection. The transmission of nerve impulses between the brain and the genitals is interrupted, leading to ED. Furthermore, males being treated for prostate cancer might find the treatment prevents them from getting an erection or sustaining one. Other conditions, such as scar tissue in the penis, may also lead to ED. See a doctor to determine the underlying cause and how best to treat it. 

Lifestyle Choices

Lifestyle choices may also contribute to erectile dysfunction. For example, men who smoke have a higher rate of ED, as do those who use alcohol. Obesity is another risk factor for this common condition, as is an unhealthy diet. People who eat a nutritious diet, get regular exercise, and control their high blood pressure can reduce their risk of stroke and heart attack along with ED. Work with a doctor to determine what lifestyle changes might be of benefit when addressing this condition. 

Treating Erectile Dysfunction

Doctors often prescribe Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis to treat erectile dysfunction. These medications enhance the nitric oxide present in the penis to relax the smooth muscles. This increases blood flow to the area. They may also recommend lifestyle changes to increase this blood flow. 

In severe cases where medications don’t work, the doctor may recommend a penile implant. For example, a person with Peyronie’s Disease may need an implant, as the scarring inside the penis leads to curved erections that are painful. However, all other options should be tried before taking this step. 

Thanks to advances in medicine, men no longer need to live with erectile dysfunction. If you have problems achieving or maintaining an erection, speak to your doctor today. This is a common problem and one that can be treated. In addition, talking to your doctor may save your life, as ED and heart health are closely linked. This is one problem that should never be ignored. 

About Atlantic Urology Clinics:

Atlantic Urology Clinics provides innovative urologic care in multiple centers around the Horry, Georgetown, Brunswick, and Marion counties. The physicians have undergone education and training at top medical schools and teaching hospitals. As a result, they provide proficient care with exceptional skill and offer the latest in surgical techniques. 

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