Markers for Disease

Weak Erections may be a marker for more serious disease.

Research results recently released state that week erections (also referred to as impotence or erectile dysfunction ) may be an early warning sign of heart disease, and other conditions. Dr Willie Jordaan, managing director of Mens Clinic International, the largest group of specialist male sexual health clinics in South Africa, said today that in a study of men diagnosed with erectile dysfunction, recently undertaken at the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, 40 percent of these patients had significant blockages of their heart arteries even though they had no symptoms of heart disease.

Erections rely on satisfactory blood flow through the arteries of the penis, says Dr Jordaan. Any blockage of those arteries will lead to a deterioration in the quality and reliability of an erection. It is critical to note, however that the disease process that affects the penile arteries will also affect arteries in other parts of the body, like the heart, kidneys and brain. It follows therefore that there is a link between erectile dysfunction and coronary artery disease.

Erection problems may thus be an early warning signal for other underlying medical conditions. “When we investigate a patient who presents to our clinics with erectile dysfunction, we commonly discover that the erection problems preceded the onset of heart disease by a year or more,Jordaan said. Thus, erectile dysfunction may be a warning sign of the potential for heart problems, and other diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke or kidney disease.

An association between erectile dysfunction and certain cancers has also been demonstrated,” continued Jordaan. “Data presented in May this year showed that approximately 15 percent of men who sought medical care for erectile dysfunction were found to have undiagnosed urological malignancies, including cancers of the prostate, bladder, kidney and penis.

For this reason, we emphasize that no man should ignore the clinical symptoms of weak or unreliable erections. Any man with these complaints should be fully assessed by a sexual medicine practitioner or urologist, concluded Dr Jordaan.

Mens Clinic International has clinics around South Africa, and offers a helpline on 0860 362867 or 27 11 523 5100.