Although erectile dysfunction (ED) is considered a well-established risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), few studies have investigated whether other aspects of sexual function might predict CVD independently of ED. In a longitudinal, population-based study of community-dwelling men participating in the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, we examined sexual function variables (including ED) and the subsequent development of CVD. ED was defined according to a validated, discriminant-analytic formula determined from the questionnaire responses and categorized as moderate/complete ED versus none/minimal. CVD included a wide range of major end points and was ascertained through self-report, medical records, and the National Death Index. We calculated the age-adjusted incidence rates according to the person-years of follow-up, and Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate covariate-adjusted, Framingham risk score-adjusted, and ED-adjusted hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals for sexual function variables and the subsequent risk of CVD. Of the 1,165 men free of CVD at baseline, the age-adjusted CVD incidence rate for moderate/complete ED and none/minimal ED was 17.9/1,000 person-years and 12.5/1,000 person-years, respectively. In multivariate models adjusted for age, covariates, ED, and the Framingham risk score, a low frequency of sexual activity (once a month or less vs >or=2 times weekly) was associated with increased risk of CVD (hazard ratio 1.45, 95% confidence interval 1.04 to 2.01). In conclusion, our results suggest that a low frequency of sexual activity predicts CVD independently of ED and that screening for sexual activity might be clinically useful.
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