Erectile Dysfunction and Heart Conditions: How Are They Linked?

There are many things that go into an erection, not the least of which is ample blood flow.

Of the 1 in 10 men who experience long-term problems with erectile dysfunction in the United States, insufficient blood flow ranks at, or near, the top of the list of causes. The link between your cardiovascular health and sexual function, however, is both direct and indirect.

When it comes to men’s sexual health, Dr. Robert Cornell is one of the premier urologists in the field, and he understands the complex connection between your heart and sexual function better than most. In the following, we explore this link so that you can better manage both of these areas of your health.

Coronary artery disease

One of the more common culprits behind erectile dysfunction (ED) is coronary artery disease, a condition in which plaque builds up in your arteries, which constricts the flow of blood throughout your body, including to your penis. This narrowing and hardening of your arteries is also called atherosclerosis, and the condition is responsible for 50-60% of cases of ED in men over the age of 60


If your blood pressure numbers are high, it means that your blood vessels are under excessive strain, which can eventually lead to damage. This damage can then lead to problems with ED as your blood is having a harder time getting to your penis.

High cholesterol

When your cholesterol levels are high, your body is struggling to clear fat (lipids) from your blood vessels. This fat can build up over time and lead to narrowing in your blood vessels, such as what occurs when you have coronary artery disease.


While diabetes is primarily a metabolic disorder, the chronic condition can damage your blood vessels over time, as your body is unable to control glucose levels in your blood. In fact, 35-50% of men with diabetes encounter problems with ED.

Endothelial dysfunction

Your blood vessels contain an inner lining called an endothelium, and when there’s a problem in this tissue, it can prevent your blood vessels from dilating. As a result, your blood supply is compromised and less blood flows to your penis.

In fact, endothelial dysfunction can first present in the blood vessels in your penis, which makes your ED a sign of a developing cardiovascular problem that you may be unaware of.

Treating your ED

To determine whether your ED is linked to your cardiovascular health, we perform a thorough analysis of your health and review your symptoms. If we find that your ED is heart-related, it’s important to address the underlying problem at the same time as we address your sexual function.

Rest assured, we have many effective treatment options for ED, including medications, injections, and penile implants. That said, lifestyle changes that improve your cardiovascular health are just as important.

If you’d like to learn more about the link between ED and your heart health, contact our office in Houston, Texas, to set up an appointment.

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