Specialist Explains the Connection Between Erectile Dysfunction and Cardiovascular Diseases

Erectile Dysfunction refers to the inability of men to attain or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse.

International Men’s Health Week: Expert Decodes The Link Between Erectile Dysfunction and Heart Diseases
International Men’s Health Week: Expert Decodes The Link Between Erectile Dysfunction and Heart Diseases

During International Men’s Health Week, typically observed in the third week of June, this year spanning from June 12 to 18, the focus is on men’s health. We spoke with Dr. Aditya Pradhan, Director of Uro-oncology and Kidney Transplantation at Venkateshwar Hospital, Dwarka, New Delhi, to delve into one of the prevalent health issues in men: Erectile Dysfunction (ED), and its correlation with heart disease. ED is frequently observed among men with coronary heart disease, wherein they struggle to achieve or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse.

Dr. Pradhan emphasized the tendency to overlook one health condition when grappling with others. The interconnection between different conditions often goes unnoticed without proper medical attention. However, it’s crucial to recognize that diseases can stem from multiple factors and may indicate more than one underlying issue. He illustrated this by highlighting how individuals often fail to associate a sexual ailment like ED with heart disease.

International Men’s Health Week: Expert Decodes The Link Between Erectile Dysfunction and Heart Diseases


Connection Between Erectile Dysfunction and Heart Conditions: What’s the Relationship

According to data from 1995, over 152 million men worldwide were estimated to be affected by erectile dysfunction (ED). However, projections for 2025 suggest a significant increase, with approximately 322 million men expected to have ED, marking a rise of nearly 170 million individuals, as reported by the journal BJU International. The most substantial growth is anticipated in developing regions, specifically Africa, Asia, and South America, according to the journal.

Given its prevalence, it’s important to understand how ED can lead to other health complications, such as heart disease. Dr. Pradhan emphasized, “ED could serve as an early indication of heart-related issues. Hence, it’s crucial for men with ED to assess their risk factors to prevent future Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs).”

He pointed out that not all high-risk CVD patients exhibit traditional risk factors. “It’s essential to consider both conventional and non-conventional risk factors in men with ED. Several parameters identified through comprehensive clinical evaluations of ED patients have proven to be reliable indicators of CVDs. These include high blood sugar, elevated triglycerides, obesity, metabolic issues, and reduced penile blood flow,” he explained.

Connection Between Erectile Dysfunction and Heart Conditions: What's the Relationship

“Additional risk factors encompass alcohol abuse, fatherhood, decreased partner sexual interest, and significant difficulties in achieving erection during sexual activity or masturbation,” he added.

Presently, some experts suggest that the occurrence of erectile dysfunction before heart problems primarily stems from endothelial dysfunction, affecting the inner lining of blood vessels, as well as smooth muscle issues. Impaired endothelium leads to inadequate blood supply to the heart and compromised blood flow to the penis. This endothelial dysfunction also contributes to atherosclerosis development.

“Understanding these risk factors can help determine whether ED patients require lifestyle adjustments or surgical interventions for both ED and heart issues,” noted Dr. Pradhan. “Effectively managing high-risk factors in men with ED not only reduces CVD risk but can also improve erectile function,” he emphasized.

Causes and Treatment

A modern lifestyle characterized by sedentary habits, poor dietary choices, elevated cortisol levels, and the use of substances like alcohol and tobacco has emerged as a significant contributor to both erectile dysfunction (ED) and heart diseases. “These factors can contribute to various health issues, including diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, all of which are recognized as risk factors for both ED and cardiovascular problems,” noted Dr. Pradhan.

“In terms of timely intervention, creating a supportive environment where men feel comfortable discussing sexual health openly and candidly is crucial,” he emphasized.

Causes and Treatment


“Adopting a healthier lifestyle aimed at improving heart health can also positively impact reproductive health. This includes increasing physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and refraining from smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. More severe symptoms may warrant further medical evaluation or intervention,” he added.

Dr. Pradhan highlighted the effectiveness of sex therapy in cases where psychological factors significantly contribute to ED and when traditional medication approaches fall short. “In addition to lifestyle changes, doctors may prescribe oral medications depending on individual medical conditions,” he noted.

Penile implants represent another successful treatment option. “These devices are surgically implanted into the penis to assist individuals with ED in achieving erections. Penile implants are often recommended after other ED treatments have been unsuccessful,” he explained.

“Moreover, penile implants can also effectively address Peyronie’s disease, a condition characterized by curved and painful erections resulting from scarring within the penis. They offer spontaneity and control, allowing men to regain erectile function without the need for planning or waiting, unlike conventional ED therapies,” Dr. Pradhan elaborated.

Need for Awareness

Dr. Pradhan emphasized, “A significant number of men struggle to address ED openly due to societal stigma and the misconception that nothing can be done about it.” Citing the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, he noted that over 30 percent of men aged 40–70 experience ED. He stressed the importance of raising awareness about ED to combat the associated stigma and the belief that discussing it is shameful. “Timely medical assistance and treatment can lead to a full recovery,” he concluded.