The heart, together with the arteries that feed it, is one big muscle, and when it starts to fail the symptoms can show up in many parts of the body.
According to Dr. Goldstein, erectile dysfunction (ED) is one of the best early tip-offs to progressive heart disease:
Today, any patient who comes in with ED should be considered a cardiovascular patient until proven otherwise.
- Researchers at the Mayo clinic followed men ages 40-49 with erectile dysfunction and found they were 200% likely to develop heart disease as those with no sexual health problems. Another retrospective study found that 67% of men being treated for cardiovascular disease suffered from ED, often for years before they were diagnosed with heart trouble.
- Narrowing and hardening of the arteries restricts blood flow to the penis, which can give men trouble when it comes to getting or keeping an erection. And because those arteries are smaller than the ones leading to the heart, ED can occur before any other sign of artery stiffness. Lack of oxygen can also lead to ongoing fatigue and weakness, which can sabotage libido, so lack of desire may accompany lack of success.
- ED is reason enough to visit the MD--the GP not just a urologist--to investigate cardiovascular disease as an underlying cause. Get a full workup to assess possible causes of ED. (If the GP doesn't require heart tests, request them.
For women, reduced blood flow to the genital area can impede arousal, make it more difficult to reach orgasm, or make orgasms less satisfying. Dr. Goldstein recommends that women experiencing these symptoms also get a full workup to assess the possible causes. They should also see their GP, not just an ob/gyn. If the GP doesn't mention heart tests, women should also request them.
Let the discussion begin...
To read the Caring.com article featuring the signs of an unhealthy heart, click on the following link: