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The media attention and release of new erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs may be helping men by calling attention to their hidden heart disease, researchers at the Mayo Clinic have stated. In a survey of 2000 men, aged between 40 and 79 and living around the Mayo Clinic, the researchers found that men who had a heart attack between 1979 and 1995 were 3.5 times more apt to report that they had ED in 1996, compared with men who did not have a heart attack. The participants completed questionnaires every 2 years.
The risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease - high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, lack of exercise, obesity, and smoking - are the same as those related to impotence. "I think what it does is point to the fact that men with erectile dysfunction are more likely to have cardiovascular disease. It?s a marker," said lead investigator Steven Jacobsen, MD, PhD. "If it is an early warning sign, it might be better to start intervention earlier." For example, physicians could warn men to quit smoking, change their diets, and exercise more often and, if necessary, begin taking medicine to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.