Two new studies from the University of Athens in Greece showthat a popular treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED) may helpmen maintain heart health. They also showed that men with highblood pressure (BP) are at risk for impotence. Researchers statedthat 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 aretreated with sildenafil citrate (Viagra) show reductions in bloodvessel stiffness—a marker for atherosclerosis and a risk factorfor 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 withnormal BP. The study included 358 hypertensive men aged 31 to65. They were asked to complete a questionnaire that evaluatedED according to the International Index of Erectile Function. Thefindings were compared with results from a group of men withnormal BP. Thirty-five percent of men with high BP had somedegree of ED, and 9.2% of those men reported severe impotence.Of the men with high BP, 89 had never taken antihypertensivetreatment, and 20% of these men had ED; 160 were onBP medication, and 36% of these men had ED; and 107 weretaking 2 or more medicines for BP, and 47% of these men hadED. By contrast, only 14.1% of men with normal BP had somedegree of ED, and only 1.5% reported severe impotence.The second study showed that men with ED and men with atherosclerosisshare a common defect: blood vessel wall dysfunction.
The study showed that those who took sildenafil experienceda decrease in arterial stiffness, which lasted well after theacute effects of the drug had worn off. Researchers suggest thatsildenafil may be stimulating the elastin or collagen in the vesselwall, increasing its elasticity. They point out, however, that morein-depth research is needed to confirm these findings.