Erectile Dysfunction Medications and Treatment for Cardiometabolic Risk Factors: A Pharmacoepidemiologic Study

J Sex Med. 2017 Dec;14(12):1597-1605. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2017.10.063.


Background: Erectile dysfunction (ED) can be a sentinel marker for future cardiovascular disease and has been described as providing a "window of curability" for men to receive targeted cardiovascular risk assessment.

Aim: To determine whether the prescription of phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5is) for ED leads to the detection and treatment of previously undiagnosed cardiometabolic risk factors.

Methods: We performed a retrospective population-based cohort study of residents of British Columbia, Canada using linked health care databases from 2004 to 2011. An individual-level time series analysis with switching replications was used to determine changes in drug use for hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes in men 40 to 59 years old. The observation window for each patient was 720 days before and 360 days after the index date.

Outcomes: The primary outcome was changes in prescriptions for antihypertensive, statin, and oral antidiabetic drugs, with secondary outcomes being laboratory tests for plasma cholesterol and glucose.

Results: 5,858 men 40 to 59 years old newly prescribed a PDE5i were included in the analysis. We found a sudden increase in prescriptions for antihypertensive drugs (40 per 1,000; P < .001), statins (10 per 1,000; P = .001), and antidiabetic drugs (17 per 1,000; P = .002) in the 90 days after a new prescription for a PDE5i. For hypercholesterolemia and diabetes, most of this change was observed in men with relevant screening tests performed in the 30 days after their PDE5i prescription. Only 15% and 17% of men who did not have a screening test for cholesterol and glucose, respectively, in the year before their PDE5i prescription went on to have one in the subsequent 30 days.

Clinical implications: The paucity of screening tests observed in our study after PDE5i prescriptions suggests that physicians should be educated on the recommended screening guidelines for men newly diagnosed with ED.

Strengths and limitations: The number of men who were ordered a laboratory test or written a prescription but chose not to complete or fill it, respectively, is unknown.

Conclusion: Treatment for ED with PDE5is can be a trigger or "gateway drug" for the early detection and treatment of cardiometabolic risk factors provided physicians perform the requisite screening investigations. Skeldon SC, Cheng L, Morgan SG, et al. Erectile Dysfunction Medications and Treatment for Cardiometabolic Risk Factors: A Pharmacoepidemiologic Study. J Sex Med 2017;14:1597-1605.

Keywords: Cardiovascular Disease; Men’s Health; Pharmacoepidemiology; Preventive Care; Screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antihypertensive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors

Grant support