Is Erectile Dysfunction a Heart Attack in the Penis?

By Andrew Moseman | March 17, 2010 8:20 am

heart diseaseMen diagnosed with erectile dysfunction probably wouldn’t be too keen to hear that they might have bigger problems, but a new study in the journal Circulation reinforces that unfortunate idea. Given that both ED and heart attacks can result from restricted arteries that prevent blood from flowing freely, doctors have long suspected that they might be connected. Now, the study says, there’s evidence that one precedes the other. From The Los Angeles Times:

The results are probably not too surprising, added Dr. Robert Kloner, a cardiologist at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, “because arteries in the penis are smaller, so atherosclerosis shows up there sooner,” perhaps three to four years before the onset of cardiovascular disease.

The take-home message, both experts said, is that when a patient seeks treatment for ED, typically from a general practitioner, he should be given a full physical work-up to look for heart disease and referred to a cardiologist.

The guidelines for treating men with ED already state that they should be examined for cardiac problems. Kloner says updated guidelines in a few years could make that recommendation more forceful, so doctors can make sure a penis attack doesn’t become a heart attack.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Had a Heart Attack? Start Eating Chocolate
Discoblog: Erectile Dysfunction Could Signal a Heart Attack

Image: iStockphoto

  • David

    Any discussion of ED and heart disease is incomplete without mentioning a common medical conditon of middle age men known as Peyronies Disease. Evidence indicates that this disease disproportionately afflicts men who have long term hypertension. Peyronies Disease, for which there is no satisfactory treatment, results from formation of penile scar tissue, makes intercourse difficult or impossible due to penile bending and is often accompanied by excruciating pain. In a recent study, 9% of men who were screened for prostate cancer had Peyronies.

    When I developed this condition, I was unaware that a disease like this even existed. In frustration, I started an informational website, Every email I get describes a man in a desperate situation with nowhere to turn. To be accurate and complete, any discussion of ED must include comments on Peyronies Disease.

  • Joanna Cake

    Peyronie’s Disease is certainly a consideration, but so is a problem with the bulbocavernosus (which, in more modern texts, now seems to be known as the bulbospongiosus) muscle.

  • HarveyY

    So, why does it not say that ED medications, that allow blood to flow freely, are good for more than just woodies, but also help prevent heart attacks?

    Yes, hun, I am happy to see you, but this is not what it looks like. I’m using the pill just for medicinal purposes. No, hun, I did not spend the afternoon with your kid sister.

  • Jim

    This is something I have spent a lot of thought on. I am 61 years old and have suffered(although I’ve managed to conrotl it)from hypertension since I was 25.My mother and father died of heart attacks at 47 and 51, respec-
    tively. My younger brother recently passed at 59.
    I have had 3 MI’s and a cardiac sudden death, and now come equiped with an AICD. Although I can still get somewhat of an erection, my penis size has shrunken from 6.5″ to just slightly less than 5″, with a comparable decrease in girth. I haven’t had much of a sex life in the past 10-12 years, but I’m not ready to completely giveup due to the lack of equipment. Is there anything I can do, or a doctor I can see that can help me overcome this problem? Needless to say, this has caused a great deal of stress and loss of self esteem!
    Although I’m the last one left in my family, I’m not ready to give up if there’s something that I can do. I’ve tried vaccum pumps amd all sorts of pills but I still feel shortchanged (no pun intended) Any helpful info from anyone would be appreciated. Thank you!

  • William Blain

    In february 1994 I had an open heart operation with two bypass an a new mitral biological valve. Since then I have erectile disfunction. What could be the cause? I am 81. Thank you. William

  • sex scam

    Couldn’t be written any better. Studying this post jogs my memory of my outdated room mate! He all the time saved talking about this. I’ll ahead this article to him. Fairly positive he may have a great read. Cool Stuff.

  • Franey


  • Michael Wix

    Very interesting and the title is quite funny! The only product that I have seen work is erx. I used it once and my brother has been swearing by it for over a year. You can check it here Hope this helps someone.

  • j b

    Sounds good to me. My heart must be perfect as the ladies aren’t complaining about my bedtime activities.

  • Buy Generic Viagra

    By taking an illegally- or overseas-produced generic, you take a risk with your health since you have absolutely no guarantee what is in your pill and the quality of its make. Most of these come from India and China and their production is essentially unregulated.

  • Tony @ Erectile Dysfunction

    I’m not one to make comments on articles very often, but this information regarding the Erectile Dysfunction really spoke to me. It’s interesting and invaluable content presented in a very unique way. Thank you. I will recommended your article to my friends.

  • Anonymous

    Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get and
    maintain an erection that is sufficient for satisfactory sexual intercourse. 

    Erectile dysfunction (ED),
    also known as impotence, is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection for
    satisfactory sexual activity. Erectile dysfunction is different from other
    conditions that interfere with male sexual intercourse, such as lack of sexual
    desire (decreased libido) and problems with ejaculation and orgasm (ejaculatory
    dysfunction). This article focuses on the evaluation and treatment of erectile

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