Erectile Dysfunction: Harbinger of Heart Disease?

Charanjit (Chet) Rihal, MD; Stephen Kopecky, MD


November 22, 2013

Editorial Collaboration

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Erectile Dysfunction and Cardiovascular Risk

Dr Chet Rihal: Greetings. I am Chet Rihal. Today I am joined by Dr Stephen Kopecky, professor of medicine and consultant in preventive cardiology at Mayo Clinic. Steve is also the current president for the Society for Preventive Cardiology here in the US. Steve and I are going to be discussing erectile dysfunction and its impact on cardiovascular prognosis and diagnosis. Steve, welcome.

Dr Stephen Kopecky: Thank you, Chet.

Dr Rihal: There has been a lot in the literature and in the lay media about erectile dysfunction. Of what importance is that to a cardiovascular specialist? In particular, I refer to the meta-analysis[1] that you published a couple of years ago.

Dr Kopecky: Erectile dysfunction is something that we haven't talked about much in the cardiology office, but we are finding that it is a harbinger of coronary artery diseases. For instance, if you are a 70-year-old man with erectile dysfunction, your risk for coronary disease is increased one to 1.4 times, but if you are a 40-year-old man with erectile dysfunction your risk for coronary disease is 40 to 50 times higher.

Dr Rihal: Steve, just so I am hearing you correctly, you said that for a younger patient in his 40s, erectile dysfunction portends a risk 40 to 50 times higher than usual for coronary disease?

Dr Kopecky: Correct, compared with another man just like him. It is a symptom that comes up, but that we tend to brush under the rug sometimes and laugh about. Instead, we should tell our patients and ourselves and our referring doctors that this is a time we can do something to help the patient, not just his erectile dysfunction, but also his heart.


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