Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess erectile dysfunction prevalence, time of onset and association with risk factors in patients with acute chest pain and angiographically documented coronary artery disease.
Methods: 300 consecutive patients with acute chest pain and angiographically documented coronary artery disease were assessed using a semi-structured interview investigating their medical and sexual histories, the International Index of Erectile Function and other instruments.
Results: Patient mean age was 62.5+/-8 years (range 33-86 years). Mean duration of symptoms or signs of myocardial ischaemia prior to enrollment in the study was 49 months (range 1-200). Coronary angiography showed 1-, 2- and 3-vessel disease in 98 (32.6%), 88 (29.3%) and 114 (38%) patients, respectively. The prevalence of ED among all patients was 49% (147/300). Erectile dysfunction was scored as mild, mild to moderate, moderate and severe in 21 (14%), 31 (21%), 20 (14%), and 75 (51%) of patients, respectively. There was no significant difference between patients with ED (n=147) or without ED (n=153) as far as clinical and angiographic characteristics were concerned. In the 147 patients with co-existing ED and CAD, ED symptoms were reported as having become clinically evident prior to CAD symptoms by 99/147 (67%) patients. The mean time interval between the onset of ED and CAD was 38.8 months (range 1-168). There was no significant difference in terms of risk factor distribution and clinical and angiographic characteristics between patients with the onset of ED before vs. after CAD diagnosis. Interestingly, all patients with type I diabetes and ED actually developed sexual dysfunction before CAD onset (p<0.001).
Conclusions: Our study suggests that a significant proportion of patients with angiographically documented coronary artery disease have erectile dysfunction and that this latter condition may become evident prior to angina symptoms in almost 70% of cases. Future studies including a control group of patients with coronary artery disease and normal erectile function are required in order to verify whether erectile dysfunction may be considered a real predictor of ischemic heart disease.