Harvard Heart Letter

Treating cardiovascular risk factors also aids ED

Erection problems (known as erectile dysfunction, or ED) and cardiovascular disease often occur together. Clogging of arteries by cholesterol-laden plaque and damage to the inner lining of blood vessels from high blood pressure contribute to both conditions.

It would make sense, then, that treating heart disease risk factors with cholesterol-lowering statins and lifestyle changes — such as exercise, smoking cessation, and weight control — might help men with their erections.

A few clinical trials with small numbers of people have supported that hypothesis. But findings from larger numbers of people are more convincing. So Mayo Clinic doctors pooled the results of six separate studies looking at this relationship. The studies, involving a total of 740 men, were conducted from 2004 to 2010 and followed participants for time periods ranging from 12 weeks to two years.

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