Having an erectile dysfunction may put men at higher risk of early death. Researchers have found a link between the condition and development of cardiovascular diseases in men.
The new study, published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society, shows that erectile dysfunction contributes to sudden death in both men with normal or low testosterone levels. However, those with lowest levels have the highest risk of dying early.
“As both vascular disease and low testosterone levels can influence erectile function, sexual symptoms can be an early sign for increased cardiovascular risk and mortality,” Leen Antonio, lead researcher at KU Leuven-University Hospitals in Belgium, said in a statement.
The findings come from the analysis of data from the European Male Ageing Study (EMAS), which explores age-related hormonal changes and a broad range of health outcomes in elderly men. Researchers focused on hormone measurements and sexual function in 1,913 participants in five medical centers.
The team followed each participant for more than 12 years. More than 480 men or 25 percent of the participants died by the end of the study.
Researchers said that the men with erectile dysfunction but with normal total testosterone levels had 51 percent risk of death compared with those who never experienced sexual issues. The participants who had low total testosterone levels and sexual symptoms appeared with much higher risk of dying earlier.
Some men in the study experienced erectile dysfunction, poor morning erections and low libido. Researchers said they were 1.8 times more likely to die younger than expected compared to men without the sexual problems.
Erectile Dysfunction in U.S.
A 2018 study posted by the Cleveland Clinic showed that there are more than 617,700 men who experience erectile dysfunction in the U.S. every year. The condition affects more older adults than the younger population.
The study estimated that nearly 40 percent of men get erectile dysfunction at 40, while nearly 70 percent develop the sexual problem in their 70s. Researchers said age was “most strongly associated” with erectile dysfunction.
But there are other health problems that could also contribute to erectile dysfunction. Men may struggle or stop having a successful erection due to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, alcohol consumption, smoking, neurologic disease and obesity.