Sexual history: New diagnosis for heart disease?


MUHC researchers look at link

Erectile dysfunction may be linked to heart disease, according to clinicians at the Research Institute of the MUHC. Their study, published in this week's issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, is the first Canadian study tracking the rate of erectile dysfunction in almost 4,000 men and its association with cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.

"Our study suggests that erectile dysfunction, particularly in young men, may be an early warning sign of heart disease and possibly other diseases such as stroke and diabetes," says MUHC Director of Clinical Epidemiology and lead investigator Dr. Steven Grover.

Dr. Grover, who is also a professor in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University, and his colleagues evaluated men in a primary care setting between the ages of 40 and 88. They compared the risk of erectile dysfunction among patients with and without cardiovascular disease. "We found that the presence of cardiovascular disease was strongly associated with erectile dysfunction," says Dr. Grover. "Among men without diagnosed cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure and low HDL cholesterol were more common among those who had erectile dysfunction. This suggests that the men who have erectile dysfunction and have no other symptoms of cardiovascular disease may be at increased risk for developing the disease. In other words, erectile function in an otherwise healthy man may represent an important early warning system whereby difficulty maintaining an erection raises a red flag that more serious health problems may be down the road.

"Accordingly, a complete diagnostic evaluation of erectile dysfunction by a primary care physician should include screening for cardiovascular risk factors, while a complete cardiovascular evaluation should include questions about erectile function."

This study was funded by Pfizer Canada Inc.

About the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC)
The MUHC is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. The MUHC is a merger of five teaching hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University, the Montreal Children's, Montreal General, Royal Victoria and Montreal Neurological Hospitals, as well as the Montreal Chest Institute. Building on the tradition of medical leadership of the founding hospitals, the goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field, and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.

Contact Information

Christine Zeindler
McGill University Health Centre
Office Phone: 
514-934-1934 ext. 31560