Erectile Dysfunction And Heart Disease: What’s The Link?

Heart Disease

In this article, we’ll discuss the link between erectile dysfunction and heart disease.


Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is a common issue that men all over the world face. They experience difficulty or an inability to maintain or even generate an erection. Speaking about it on a medical science note, basically, blood flow to the penis is restricted due to poor health conditions. Blood pressure in the arteries increases and this makes it difficult for blood to flow to the penis. Why does blood pressure increase? Mainly due to clogged arteries. 

Also Read: Blood Pressure And Erectile Dysfunction

Excess plaque due to dead blood cells begins to collect in clusters and their presence disrupts the smooth flow of blood to the penis. Clogged arteries are the prime reason for reduced blood flow to organs that are vital for specific bodily functions.

Just as lesser blood flow to the penis can lead to ED, lesser blood flow within arteries connected to the heart can also lead to issues within the heart. When the heart receives blood at an abnormally low rate, an individual begins to experience palpitation, weakness, breathing difficulties, nausea, etc. In short, if you exhibit ED symptoms then it would be in your best interest to get your heart checked. 

Why Are ED And Heart Diseases Linked?

ED is commonly considered a stepping stone or an early indication of heart disease. Men who are victims of obesity, metabolic fluctuations, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hypertension, excess alcohol, and nicotine consumption will lead to unhealthy arteries and some form of damage to the heart.

Whereas, if you are a woman then emotional worries, depression, abnormal hormonal level, excess birth control pills can spoil the internal condition of your arteries and lead to heart disease. 

Ample medical research and reports suggest that at least 10 percent of men who suffered from heart disease leading to death were also victims of some level of ED. This proves that upon the onset of ED it is better to opt for cardiovascular evaluation than to wait for the negative effects to worsen. 

Think about it, we already know that ED arises due to the poor condition of the arteries. This means that your blood vessels are also getting damaged due to the abnormal functionality within your arteries. In fact, this gives way to a condition known as atherosclerosis, which refers to the hardening of the arteries.

This issue leads to obstructed blood flow to crucial regions like the optic nerve (causing a loss of vision), the brain (causing headaches and confusion), the penis (leading to ED), and to heart (leading to fatal heart attacks).

One must be aware that being an ED victim opens the gates for various kinds of heart diseases and within a span of 5 years the odds are that the cardiovascular muscles of ED victims will suffer the consequences. The collection of cholesterol-loaded plaque present in the arteries will definitely inhibit blood flow within the artery.

Depending on the damaged tissues it can be a life-threatening condition. For example – if a coronary artery becomes a victim of plaque-formation then the patient becomes a victim of angina (chest pain) and this can develop into a heart attack at any point of the disease.

ED once diagnosed should make patients aware that they are now susceptible to several kinds of heart conditions. Incidents of dementia, strokes, memory loss, or occurrence of random emotions also become increasingly possible.

What About ED Medicines And Heart Disease?

Consuming ED medication such as Viagra (sildenafil), Levitra (Vardenafil), Cialis (Tadalafil) proves to cure your penile issues, but that is only if you abide by your prescription instructions. ED medication is supposed to increase your blood flow to the penile region. But where does this excess blood from? This blood is diverted from arteries connected to your other organs. Lesser blood goes to the other organs and more to the penile region. This surely helps in generating an erection for as long as the medicine is active in your body, but at the cost of lower blood flow to other organs.

ED pills come under the category of PDE-5 (phosphodiesterase type 5) medication. PDE-5 is an enzyme that is tasked with controlling blood flow to the pulmonary arteries. When PDE-5 levels are high within the body, then cGMP levels are reduced.

Now, what are cGMP levels? cGMP helps in regulating physiological processes within the body. For example – it helps in relaxing and contracting muscles as per the needs of the body. Thus if the PDE-5 enzymes are inhibited, there is an increase in cGMP levels (and also nitric oxide). This leads to more relaxed penile nerves and thus greater blood flow to the penis region. 

The best part is that nitric oxide is also released and this promotes broadening of the arteries, thus leading to more space for the excess blood to flow to the penis. 

The issue persists when an ED victim consumes more than prescribed doses of their medication. This leads to greater relaxation of the blood vessels in the arteries and eventually reduces blood pressure to a fatally low level. When severely low amounts of blood flow to the heart, then it is at a risk to stop functioning as it is not getting its most necessary element – blood. 

Even worse is when you consume other medicines that consist of nitrates (while you are already on ED pills). Nitrates by themselves are known to widen blood vessels and normalize blood flow. Consuming ED pills with nitrates will lead to an excessive widening of the blood vessels and reduce blood pressure to a dangerously low level, leading to possible heart failure.

Individuals who are already diagnosed with some blood pressure issues may already be consuming nitrate medication to regulate and control their blood pressure to function on a daily basis with the least effects on their health. These are the people who must be most careful of ED medication. For this reason, it is advised to visit a doctor, share your medical history, current medicinal palette, etc.

As long as a healthcare professional is aware of all your medical conditions, you are assured not to be prescribed medications that can lead to unwanted and harmful drug interactions.