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Certain risk factors for heart disease in midlife could lead to erectile dysfunction (ED) problems years later, concluded the authors of a study reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (April 21, 2004). The researchers believe that linking ED with such risk factors as obesity and high cholesterol levels might convince men to take steps to prevent impotence, which also would protect them against heart disease.
The study involved 1810 men who were evaluated for heart disease risk factors in the late 1970s. Of the 1810 men, 570 were alive and completed an erectile function survey in 1998. The average age of the participants was 46 years at the beginning of the study and 72 years at follow-up.
The results showed that major indicators of future ED included older age, obesity, and high cholesterol. Although smoking was more common among men likely to develop ED, the association was not strong. Hypertension and blood glucose levels were not linked to ED, probably because men with these risk factors may have died prior to the 1998 survey. The findings suggest that a number of factors exist that influence ED risk years later, the researchers noted.