Gay men with erectile dysfunction may have more than a failed game of sword play to worry about. Two new studies in the May 27 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology have found that erectile dysfunction, or ED as it is called in more polite circles, may be an outward sign of serious heart disease in the general population, and particularly in patients with diabetes.
The studies, conducted by teams in Italy and Hong Kong, confirmed that erectile dysfunction is a significant predictor of future cardiac problems such as heart attacks. The Italian study followed 291 men with diabetes and "silent" heart disease (known plaque buildup with no outward symptoms). Approximately one-third of the patients at the start of the study had ED. Those with ED were found to be twice as likely to have a heart attack, stroke or other cardiac complications. The Hong Kong study, which followed 2,306 diabetics with no evidence of heart disease for four years, found that men with ED were more than twice as likely to develop heart disease.
In an editorial comment accompanying the Journal pieces, Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD, FACC, confirmed three previous studies that linked ED and heart disease, and suggested that ED and heart disease were linked not just in diabetics but in the general population as well. "Men should know that ED is a true harbinger of atherosclerotic coronary heart disease," Kloner said in a statement.
A Happier Side Note—Better Boners Through Gene Therapy?
In not-quite-related news, HealthDay reported this week that a gene therapy interestingly named Maxi-K may be a way to treat erectile dysfunction in men who do not respond to pills such as Viagra. Since Viagra and similar drugs don’t work well for a significant percentage of men, this can be taken as positive news. In testing this new gene therapy on monkeys, researchers found the number of partial and full erections increased about fivefold and the frequency of ejaculations also increased. Can you say "Pass the Maxi-K"?