According to a recent study out of the Heart Failure Clinic in Milan, heart failure and erectile dysfunction (ED) are related even more closely than has previously been acknowledged. In addition to sharing common causes (such as clogged arteries), the two conditions have a common treatment: exercise.
ED can serve as a warning sign for a potential cardiac event, such as a heart attack, in many men. Some cases of ED are caused by poor circulation and clogged arteries that prevent adequate blood flow. Other cases of ED are connected to obesity, metabolic syndrome, smoking and alcohol use, and other common risks for heart disease.
Unfortunately, common medications used to treat heart failure only increase a man’s chances of suffering from ED. In fact, ED is a common side effect of more than just the drugs used to treat heart conditions – it can also result from stress, depression, and aging. The combination of these factors can make ED a tough condition to beat when heart failure is in the picture.
Tackling heart failure and erectile dysfunction with exercise
Patients with heart disease or other cardiovascular problems who suffer from ED may be able to “kill two birds with one stone.” Provided they are cleared for exercise – even mild physical activity! – they can begin treating both conditions with one step.
The experts at Milan’s Heart Failure Clinic recommend that physicians actually encourage patients to engage in sexual activity as a form of exercise. For patients with ED, they aim for heart failure medications with the least impact on sexual function to allow men to achieve normal sex lives, getting exercise and improved quality of life at the same time.
Those wishing to treat both conditions with exercise will obviously have to choose, at times, other forms of physical activity than sex. For those with limited exercise experience, walking, swimming, cycling, tai chi, yoga, and weight training can be simple and effective ways to get the body accustomed to gentle workouts. As endurance and energy levels improve, cholesterol and blood pressure may reach healthier levels.
In addition, exercise can fight obesity and other risk factors for heart failure. Circulation, mood, and stamina improvements should reduce the likelihood of ED. Patients engaging in regular physical activity should work closely with their health care providers to determine whether continued medication is necessary to manage their heart conditions.
According to Healthline, lifestyle-based treatments for ED are most effective when they address the true root cause of ED. If ED is not caused by problems connected to heart failure, however, other treatments (such as testosterone therapy) may be necessary to treat the condition more effectively.
Sources for this article include:
- Erectile dysfunction? Take maca root and Chinese chives, says study
- African basil is a potent natural treatment for men with erectile dysfunction
- Study: Folic acid is “a very promising vitamin” for erectile dysfunction
- Zinc supplementation can benefit individuals with erectile dysfunction, reveals study