Men with erectile dysfunction are TWICE as likely to have a heart attack

Men with erectile dysfunction face twice the risk of having a heart attack, cardiac arrest or stroke, a study has found.

Doctors today warned that trouble getting or keeping an erection should prompt men to immediately seek help.

ED, which can be triggered by high blood pressure and cholesterol, strikes one in ten men at some point in their lives. 

Impotence is a better indicator of the world’s leading killer than other risk factors, such as high cholesterol or blood pressure, researchers now claim.

Doctors today warned that trouble getting or keeping an erection should prompt men to immediately seek help

The findings, derived from nearly 2,000 men, back up an array of evidence in recent years that has shown a link between ED and heart disease.

But the results of the new study provide the strongest indication to date that it can be a tell-tale sign of a heightened cardiovascular risk. 

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine scientists followed 1,900 men over four years for the new trial. Volunteers were aged between 60 and 78.

During the follow-up, there were a total of 115 heart attacks, strokes, cardiac arrests and sudden cardiac deaths. 

A greater proportion of men who reported ED (6.3 per cent) suffered heart attacks, cardiac arrests or strokes than men who didn’t report it (2.6 per cent).

When the researchers adjusted their analysis to eliminate the potential influence of other risk factors, that risk was lessened but still markedly higher.

The study, published in the journal Circulation, found men with ED were nearly twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke than other men.


Erectile dysfunction, also known as impotence, is when a man is unable to get or maintain an erection.

It is more common in the over-40s but affects men of all ages.

Failure to stay erect is usually due to tiredness, stress, anxiety or alcohol, and is not a cause for concern.

However, it can be a sign of an underlying medical condition such as high blood pressure or cholesterol, side effects of medication, or hormonal issues.

Lifestyle factors than can affect the condition include obesity, smoking, cycling too much, drinking too much, and stress. 

Source: NHS Choices 

Dr Michael Blaha, study author, said: ‘Our results reveal that ED is, in and of itself, a potent predictor of cardiovascular risk.

‘Our findings suggest that clinicians should perform further targeted screening in men with ED, regardless of other cardiac risk factors and should consider managing any other risk factors – such as high blood pressure or cholesterol – that much more aggressively.’ 

Dr Blaha added that men seeking treatment and evaluation for ED should be a signal to conduct a comprehensive cardiovascular evaluation. 

He said: ‘The onset of ED should prompt men to seek comprehensive cardiovascular risk evaluation from a preventive cardiologist.

‘It is incredible how many men avoid the doctor and ignore early signs of cardiovascular disease, but present for the first time with a chief complaint of ED.

‘This is a wonderful opportunity to identify otherwise undetected high-risk cases.’  

Health officials in the UK last year incorporated ED in the risk-scoring algorithm used by doctors to assess a patient’s 10-year cardiovascular risk. 

Heart disease, often caused by high blood pressure, high cholesterol and being obese, killed 8.76 million people across the world in 2015

The condition shares several common risk factors with ED, including obesity, hypertension, smoking and diabetes.