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Two new studies from the University of Athens in Greece show that a popular treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED) may help men maintain heart health. They also showed that men with high blood pressure (BP) are at risk for impotence. Researchers stated that middle-aged and elderly men are more likely to have ED, and this same group is more likely not to have proper BP control. They reported that impotent men who have high BP and are treated with sildenafil citrate (Viagra) show reductions in blood vessel stiffnessa marker for atherosclerosis and a risk factor for heart disease.
The researchers also stated that not only are BP and ED related, but men with high BP are at twice the risk of ED as men with normal BP. The study included 358 hypertensive men aged 31 to 65. They were asked to complete a questionnaire that evaluated ED according to the International Index of Erectile Function. The findings were compared with results from a group of men with normal BP. Thirty-five percent of men with high BP had some degree of ED, and 9.2% of those men reported severe impotence. Of the men with high BP, 89 had never taken antihypertensive treatment, and 20% of these men had ED; 160 were on BP medication, and 36% of these men had ED; and 107 were taking 2 or more medicines for BP, and 47% of these men had ED. By contrast, only 14.1% of men with normal BP had some degree of ED, and only 1.5% reported severe impotence. The second study showed that men with ED and men with atherosclerosis share a common defect: blood vessel wall dysfunction.
The study showed that those who took sildenafil experienced a decrease in arterial stiffness, which lasted well after the acute effects of the drug had worn off. Researchers suggest that sildenafil may be stimulating the elastin or collagen in the vessel wall, increasing its elasticity. They point out, however, that more in-depth research is needed to confirm these findings.