Erectile Dysfunction in Diabetic Men May Signal Heart Trouble

Two new studies indicate that erectile dysfunction in men with type 2 diabetes may be a precursor to future heart disease and death.

In the first study, researchers from Hong Kong recruited 2,306 men with type 2 diabetes. At the start of the study, just over one-quarter of the participants had E.D. None of the participants had a history of heart disease, vascular disease or stroke.

Over a four-year period, researchers found that 123 of the men either suffered a heart attack, died from heart disease, developed chest pain caused by clogged arteries, or needed bypass surgery or a catheter procedure to restore blood flow to the heart. Men with E.D. were 58 percent more likely to suffer coronary problems over the course of the study.

"The development of erectile dysfunction should alert both patients and healthcare providers to the future risk of coronary heart disease," Peter Chun-Yip Tong, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine & Therapeutics at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, said in a news release.

"Other risk factors such as poor blood glucose control, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, smoking and obesity should be reviewed and addressed aggressively," he said.

In the second study, researchers from Italy looked at 291 men who had both type 2 diabetes and silent coronary artery disease, which was discovered by stress testing and confirmed by x-ray angiography. Of these, 118 had E.D. at the beginning of the study.

Participants were followed over four years and researchers found that patients who had E.D. at the beginning of the study were twice as likely to suffer a major adverse cardiac event when compared to those without E.D.

The findings of both studies will be published in the May 27 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.