Background: Erectile dysfunction (ED) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) share similar risk factors, and ED may be a marker of CVD progression. The study assessed: (i) the temporal relationship between ED and CVD and (ii) the UK incidence of ED, in patients with CVD and an age-matched control group.
Design: After ethics approval, 207 patients (CVD group) attending cardiovascular rehabilitation programmes and 165 age-matched subjects (control group), from GP practices across the UK, completed up to four questionnaires [ED details, The International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) (before and after a cardiovascular event) and ED related Quality of Life]. A health professional also completed a medical details questionnaire.
Results: Erectile dysfunction was reported by 66% of individuals with CVD, with a mean duration of 5 +/- 5.3 years. The control group was significantly different (p < 0.05) in both incidence (37%) and mean duration (6.6 +/- 6.8 years). Only 53% of the CVD group and 43% of the control group had discussed their symptoms of ED with a health professional. The IIEF demonstrated that ED became significantly worse (p < 0.05) after a cardiovascular event, changing from moderate to severe (13-10).
Conclusions: From these data, it is now evident that ED may precede a cardiovascular event by as much as 5 years. In almost half of the men with ED, there were missed opportunities to undertake a CVD risk assessment and provide an intervention, because the men did not acknowledge the problem. Men with ED should be specifically targeted for CVD preventative strategies in terms of lifestyle changes, and appropriate pharmacological treatments.