Objectives: We examined whether common coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factors measured in mid-life predict erectile dysfunction (ED) 25 years later.
Background: Retrospective and cross-sectional studies have suggested that ED is associated with classic CHD risk factors, but few prospective studies have studied these associations.
Methods: In this prospective study of community-dwelling men age 30 to 69 years, seven classic CHD risk factors (age, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hypertriglyceridemia, and obesity) were assessed from 1972 to 1974. In 1998, after an average follow-up of 25 years, surviving male participants were asked to complete the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF-5), which allows stratification of ED into five groups.
Results: Sixty-eight percent of the surviving men returned, and 60% completed the IIEF-5 questionnaire. Respondents had more favorable levels of all heart disease risk factors at baseline than non-respondents. At baseline, the average age of the 570 ED study participants was 46 years; at follow-up, their average age was 72 years. Mean age, body mass index, cholesterol, and triglycerides were each significantly associated with an increased risk of ED. Cigarette smoking was marginally more common in those with severe/complete ED, as compared with those without ED. Blood pressure and fasting blood glucose were not significantly associated with ED, likely due to selective mortality.
Conclusions: Improving CHD risk factors in mid-life may decrease the risk of ED as well as CHD. Erectile dysfunction should be included as an outcome in clinical trials of lipid-lowering agents and lifestyle modifications.