Young men suffering from erectile dysfunction may be at an increased risk of developing heart disease -- the leading cause of death among men worldwide, finds a study.
The findings suggested that erectile dysfunction -- afflicting more than half of men aged 40-70 years and greater than 70 per cent of men over age 70 -- can be a simple and effective marker of underlying risk of subclinical cardiovascular disease.
"Our study indicate that [young] men [with erectile dysfunction] are at greater risk of having identifiable subclinical cardiovascular disease and will benefit from an active disease work-up," said researchers led by Chukwuemeka Osondu (Baptist Health South Florida).
"Measures of erectile dysfunction could be a simple effective cardiovascular disease risk stratification tool, particularly in young men who are less likely to undergo aggressive cardiovascular risk assessment and management," researchers noted.
For the study, published in the journal Vascular Medicine, the team conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 28 studies that examined the link between erectile dysfunction and measures of early cardiovascular disease.
They reported a significant association of erectile dysfunction with impaired endothelial function -- a marker of the ability of blood vessels to relax that is an early event in vascular disease development.
In addition, erectile dysfunction was associated with increased carotid intimal medial thickness (carotid IMT) -- an early manifestation of atherosclerosis.
"Our study supports a more aggressive cardiovascular disease risk assessment and management for persons with erectile dysfunction, including young men who may otherwise be categorised as low risk due to their young ages," the researchers noted.