Many moons ago, erectile dysfunction was believed to be a psychological issue brought on by depression after a heart attack. However, researchers now believe we had it backwards. What if the link between heart disease and erectile dysfunction wasn’t a psychological one, but a physical one? The science suggests this is exactly the case.

Is ED an Early Indicator for Cardiovascular Disease?

Not every case of erectile dysfunction is a sure-fire sign of cardiovascular disease. That said, the link between the two is well-documented. Erectile dysfunction is often an indicator for a number of medical issues, so it’s vital that anyone experiencing sexual dysfunction talk to a doctor, especially if a family history of heart disease or any other serious illness exists.

Linking Erectile Dysfunction to Cardiovascular Disease

The link between the two seems to stem from issues in the inner lining of the blood vessels known as the endothelium. Dysfunction in the endothelium is made worse by diminishing supplies of nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide is a key component in attaining erections because it allows the blood vessels in the penis to dilate to accept an influx of blood to create an erection. Nitric oxide plays the same role for all other blood vessels in the body.

Going back to the endothelium, if the content of nitro oxide is too low, it will contribute to endothelial dysfunction. Coronary plaque will grow should the dysfunction continue. In this way, erectile dysfunction is often one of the first signs of endothelial dysfunction and plaque growth.

What Can You Do About It?

Most men experience erectile dysfunction in the later stages of life, usually in the 60-70 age bracket. The onset of erectile dysfunction is often gradual. Should your symptoms occur suddenly or earlier than the average age, consulting a doctor is highly advisable. Even if you feel the onset of erectile dysfunction is well-within what is to be expect for your age, be sure to alert your doctor anyway. Certain risk factors like excess weight, high cholesterol and high blood pressure can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and erectile dysfunction.