May 02, 2023

Impotence and Heart Disease: The Connection You Can’t Ignore

erectile disfunction and heart disease
Impotence, or erectile dysfunction (ED), is the inability to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sex. It’s a very common condition, affecting around 30 million men in the U.S., according to a study quoted by the National Institutes of Health. 

ED can develop for multiple reasons. One cause that’s important to know about is heart disease. 

The Link Between Erectile Dysfunction and Heart Problems

Researchers have learned that there’s a link between ED and heart disease. That includes a study of 95,000 men in Australia that found those with ED had more heart problems than those without.

Theories about the connection between heart problems and erectile dysfunction continue to evolve. Researchers had believed that atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaques in the arteries) was responsible for ED. But today, experts think dysfunction of the endothelium (the inner lining of blood vessels) and smooth muscle in arteries may be to blame. This problem can reduce blood supply to the heart and blood flow to the penis.  

Types of Heart Disease That Can Cause Erectile Dysfunction

Multiple types of heart disease can affect the ability to get an erection. This includes coronary heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, and congestive heart failure, among others. The medications for treating these conditions may also cause or worsen ED. 

Be aware that taking heart and erectile dysfunction medication concurrently can be unsafe. You should never do so without first talking with your doctor.

Other health conditions may also play a role. For example, erectile dysfunction and diabetes are closely linked. That’s because high blood sugar levels can damage nerves and blood vessels essential to erectile function.

Treatment Options for Erectile Dysfunction and Heart Disease

If you suffer from heart problems and erectile dysfunction, improvements to your heart health can also improve your sexual functioning. Specifically, your doctor will advise you to do the following:

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Increase your physical activity.
  • Quit smoking if you smoke.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.

For more advanced heart disease, other interventions may be required.

Importance of Addressing Erectile Dysfunction

If you have persistent erectile dysfunction, you shouldn’t consider it a problem that’s solely “down there.” It may be an early warning sign of severe health issues.

You also shouldn’t hesitate to talk with your doctor (and your partner) about this issue. While ED can be frustrating or embarrassing, it’s something many men experience. And it’s a condition that can be treated directly with ED medication or, if it’s related to your heart health, by taking steps to address the heart condition.

Your doctor can also provide guidance and prescribe treatment if you experience erectile dysfunction after a heart attack.  


The key to better erectile health and heart health is to take action. Neither condition is likely to improve on its own, but both can be treated successfully. 

Learn more about urology care services at Baptist Health and talk with your doctor about ED and heart disease. 

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