Struggling to keep your erection up is bad news in itself, but men with erectile dysfunction may have more to worry about than just lack of sex. According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine, men with erectile dysfunction are more likely to be diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AFib).
Exploring the link between erectile dysfunction and irregular heartbeat
AFib is an irregular or quivering heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke and heart failure. This condition is the most common form of arrhythmia and affects up to 6.1 million people in the United States.
Past studies have linked AFib to erectile dysfunction, but the link between erectile dysfunction and newly diagnosed AFib is not well-established. To that end, a team led by Northwestern University researchers examined whether erectile dysfunction is independently associated with newly diagnosed AFib.
The researchers studied more than 1,700 older men without a history of AFib. After four years, 9.6 percent of the men with self-reported erectile dysfunction were diagnosed with AFib compared to just 2.9 percent of men without the condition. After adjusting for risk factors such as smoking, weight, diabetes and blood pressure, the researchers found that men with erectile dysfunction were 66 percent more likely to be diagnosed with AFib.
“That’s a reasonably strong association,” said Dr. Yoshihiro Tanaka, a postdoctoral researcher at Northwestern University and the study’s lead author. “If patients have [erectile dysfunction], physicians should investigate other cardiovascular risk factors and initiate treatment as soon as possible,” he added. (Related: Erectile dysfunction and heart disease share common treatment.)
Dr. Hugh Calkins, director of the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service at Johns Hopkins Hospital who was not part of the study, believes that the study will trigger a new round of research on the link between cardiovascular health, erectile dysfunction and AFib.
“Loads and loads of my male patients have erectile dysfunction, and when I read the [study] I said, ‘Wow, this connection makes sense,’” said Calkins.
Calkins is also interested in seeing more studies about the connection between erectile dysfunction and asymptomatic AFib. Sometimes called “silent AFib,” the condition causes no observable symptoms and may be more common than previously thought.
Causes of erectile dysfunction and how to overcome it
Cardiovascular disease is one of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction. According to a recent study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society, clogged arteries can make it hard for men to keep an erection by impeding blood flow. Erectile dysfunction, the study suggests, may be an early sign of increased heart disease and mortality risk.
Other causes of erectile dysfunction include:
- The use of certain medications, such as those prescribed for high blood pressure and depression
- Stress, anxiety and depression
- Sleep disorders
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Nerve problems due to prostate surgery
- Illnesses such as diabetes, kidney disease and Parkinson’s disease
- Accidents that cause injury to the pelvic area
Practicing a healthy lifestyle can help combat erectile dysfunction and keep your heart healthy. Check out the following tips to overcome erectile dysfunction naturally:
- Walk for health. Studies show that walking for at least 30 minutes a day can reduce your risk of erection problems.
- Eat a healthy diet. Research shows that eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish can decrease the your risk of erectile dysfunction.
- Maintain a healthy weight. An expanding waistline can put you at risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, two common causes of erectile dysfunction.
- Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. A strong pelvic floor helps keep blood from leaving the penis by pressing on a key vein.
Erectile dysfunction is not an isolated condition but is closely linked to your cardiovascular health. Be sure to practice healthy lifestyle habits to keep your heart healthy and prevent erection problems. Read more health tips for men at MensHealth.news.
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