By Rebecca Jones
With the popularity today of medications like Viagra men are becoming much more comfortable talking about erectile dysfunction than ever before but one conversation they may not be having is how ED can be directly linked to heart problems. ED has many causes both physical and emotional and as men age they become increasingly more likely to suffer difficulties getting and maintaining erections. According to research done by the Journal of Sexual Medicine by the time men reach their 40’s nearly 10% of them will be affected by ED this number goes up to nearly 30% by the time they reach their 60’s. ED is often the first indicator of heart problems because the arteries that carry blood to the penis are smaller than the arteries in the heart. If there is any narrowing or clogging these arteries will be affected first especially as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle. While there are many medications on the market that can improve ED symptoms there are lifestyle changes that can be made to improve both the health of your heart and your sex life.
Get Regular Exercise
Turns out what’s good for your heart is good for the rest of your body as well. Men who exercise regularly are about 15-30% less likely to suffer from ED than their more sedentary peers. Getting regular aerobic exercise will increase blood circulation in the body, keep your heart healthy, reduce your risk of prostate problems and improve erectile function.
Watch Your Weight
Overweight men who consume a diet high in fat and low in whole grains, fruit and vegetables are at a much greater risk for ED than their peers who maintain a healthy BMI. Obesity not only has a negative impact on blood flow in the body but is also known to lower a man’s testosterone another leading cause of erectile dysfunction.
More bad news for smokers, researchers have discovered that this group is 60% more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction than nonsmokers. Smoking causes blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow to all parts of the body. Bottom line the more cigarettes you smoke the worse it is for your heart and your erectile function.
Type II Diabetes
Nearly 50% of men with Type II diabetes suffer from erectile dysfunction. Diet and exercise play a key role in not only preventing diabetes but in preventing high blood pressure and high cholesterol as well.
Emotional Health is Just as Important as Physical Health
Stress, depression and fatigue can not only lead to erectile dysfunction but can also lower sex drive. It is believed that about 15% of all cases of ED can be attributed to emotional issues. Even low amounts of anxiety can trigger neurotransmitters that cause constriction in arteries and decreased blood flow to the penis. Since ED can also cause feelings of depression in men it is sometimes unclear which condition came first but the fact that the two are interlinked is undeniable.
The good news for men is that erectile dysfunction is not only treatable, through lifestyle changes and medications like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra but it can also send up a red flag that there are other health issues that need to be examined. Early detection is the key to improving the health of your heart so if you are experiencing ED don’t be afraid to discuss your health concerns with your doctor.