Erectile dysfunction (ED) is linked to heart disease and early death in men both with and without a history of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The finding came from a new study conducted by researchers from the Australian National University, led by Emily Banks, and was published in PLOS Medicine.

Prior research has demonstrated that erectile dysfunction is associated with heart disease risk. In fact, a study from August of last year demonstrated that erectile dysfunction is a risk factor in men aged 55 or younger for eventual heart disease.

However, this is the first study to indicate that the severity of ED correlates with the elevated chance of CVD hospitalization and all-cause mortality.

”The risks of future heart disease and premature death increased steadily with severity of erectile dysfunction,” Emily Banks explained.

The team of investigators gathered and examined date from the Australian prospective cohort 45 and Up Study. The research consisted of 95,038 males aged 45 or older.

After controlling for variables that could have an impact on the results, the experts analyzed the link between severity of self-reported ED and CVD hospitalization and mortality.

Over 65,000 men without known heart disease at the start of the study and over 29,000 men with CVD were involved in the investigation.

During a follow-up that lasted about 2.2 years and ended in June 2010, there were 7,855 incident hospital admissions for heart disease, and during a follow-up that lasted 2.8 years and ended in December 2010, 2304 subjects died.

Results showed that the men with severe ED and without known CVD had a relative 35% greater risk of hospitalization for all CVDs and a relative 93% elevated chance of all-cause mortality, compared to those with no erectile problems.

Men with CVD and severe ED had a relative 64% increased risk for all CVDs combined and a 137% greater chance of all-cause mortality.

Rob Grenfell, cardiovascular health director at Australia’s Heart Foundation, said:

”These results tell us that every man who is suffering from any degree of erectile dysfunction should be seeking medical assistance as early as possible and also insisting on a heart health check by their GP at the same time.”

The authors explained: “The findings of this study highlight the need to consider ED in relation to the risk of a wide range of CVDs.”

Additionally, they emphasized that it is unlikely that erectile dysfunction causes heart disease. Instead, they explained, both result from comparable underlying causes, such as atherosclerosis.

“As a result, ED could serve as a useful marker to identify men who should undergo further testing to assess their risk for CVD,” the researchers concluded.

Written by Sarah Glynn