A Depressing Connection

What do depression, heart disease and erectile dysfunction (E.D.) have in common? Well for starters, if you suffer from any one of these conditions, the other two might be just around the corner.

According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, E.D. can be an early indicator of heart disease in some men. As if that isn’t depressing enough, there is also a strong correlation between E.D. and depression.

Heart disease and E.D. are both a result of clogged arteries. When arteries become clogged with plaque buildup, it can lead to condition known as atherosclerosis, which often leads to heart disease. Being that the blood vessels within the penis are smaller than those elsewhere in the body, they’re the first to become clogged. When you throw depression into the mix, you get a recipe for disaster. People who are depressed tend to have elevated levels of the stress hormone, known as cortisol. This increase in cortisol can put strain on the heart muscle and the study estimates that men who are clinically depressed may increase their risk of heart disease by up to 40 percent.

Here are some facts about E.D. that every man should know:

  • At least 30 million American men have some degree of erectile dysfunction.
  • About 40% of men in their 40s report at least occasional problems getting and maintaining erections. Additionally, it is reported that about 52% of men age 40 to 70 years and nearly 70% of men in their 70s suffer some degree of ED.
  • Failure to achieve an erection less than 20% of the time is not unusual and treatment is rarely needed.
  • Atherosclerosis alone accounts for 50% to 60% of ED cases in men 60 and older. Between 35% and 50% of men with diabetes have ED and ED may be a predictor for other vascular problems.
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