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Erectile dysfunction could signify heart risk

Men with diabetes who suffer from erectile dysfunction could be at increased risk of serious heart problems, a new study suggests.

Those with erectile dysfunction are twice as likely as other men with diabetes to develop heart disease, found researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Both erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease are common complications of diabetes. They develop when arteries supplying blood to the penis or heart become blocked or damaged due to poor diabetes control.

Early warning

"The development of erectile dysfunction should alert both patients and healthcare providers to the future risk of coronary heart disease," said lead researcher Dr Peter Chun-Yip Tong .

In a separate study, researchers looked at 300 men - 118 of whom had erectile dysfunction. Over the next four years, these men were twice as likely to suffer a "major cardiac event", confirming the finding of the Hong Kong study. However, among patients taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, with or without erectile dysfunction, the risk of this was reduced by a third.

Taking it seriously

 These results are very interesting. They highlight the importance of taking erectile dysfunction seriously and not ignoring it as some men might be inclined to do," said Pav Pank, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK,

“Erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease are two of the long-term complications of diabetes generally caused by high blood glucose (sugar) levels. Stabilising these levels will help reduce the risk of your arteries furring up and becoming blocked or narrowed, which can lead to certain areas of the body not getting an adequate supply of blood. This could cause a number of problems including erectile dysfunction and heart attack. If you are at all worried, you should talk to your GP or healthcare team.”

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