Purpose of review: Erectile dysfunction is a common sexual disorder affecting 40% of men in the United States. However, the pathophysiologic mechanism involved in the causation of erectile dysfunction is multifactorial and not well delineated.
Recent findings: Several recent studies disclose that erectile dysfunction is the result of multiple interrelated comorbid conditions that include hypertension, coronary artery disease (CAD), heart failure, and diabetes mellitus among them. In addition to comorbid conditions, certain cardiovascular and antihypertensive drugs are also involved in the development of erectile dysfunction, with the most prominent being the thiazide type diuretics, the aldosterone receptor blockers, and the β-adrenergic receptor blockers. Also, knowledge by the patient of the drug and its action on erectile dysfunction may increase the incidence of erectile dysfunction (Hawthorn effect). Before treatment is initiated, patients should be screened for the presence of erectile dysfunction, because this condition is associated with hypertension, CAD, heart failure, diabetes mellitus, and their treatment and an appropriate treatment regimen should be selected. If that fails, the addition of phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors to the treatment regimen is recommended. The only exception is a patient with CAD treated with organic nitrates, in which the coadministration of phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors is strictly prohibited.
Summary: Knowledge of the various comorbid conditions and their treatment associated with the development of erectile dysfunction will help the caring physician to treat his patients appropriately and safely. All these aspects will be discussed in this review.