Erectile Dysfunction and Smoking: Are They Related?
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The media has bombarded us with advertisements for Viagra and other medications for erectile dysfunction or ED; however these clever ads neglect to tell everyone that this medical condition consists of more than just the inability to obtain and maintain and erection. For men who smoke cigarettes, the ED can also be a sign of vascular disease and the signal that a heart attack is coming in the not so distant future.
It is widely known the effects of smoking have on the body to induce various diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Men who experience erectile dysfunction between the ages of 40 to 49 are at double risk for heart disease. Additionally, if you are a man who smokes, your risk is even higher for developing ED.
The inability to obtain and maintain an erection is the definition of erectile dysfunction. While this problem can be caused by many things, it is generally brought about by underlying diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes. If a man afflicted with these diseases smokes, he only increases their effects as well as creating new problematic symptoms.
How smoking affects the Vascular System:
Smoking causes the blood vessels of the vascular system to become narrow, which can have an effect on a man’s ability to have an erection. The ability to get and maintain an erection is dependent upon the health of the vascular system of the body.
The penile shaft contains two erectile bodies called the corpus cavernosum, which is made of smooth muscle and blood vessels. As the corpus cavernosum fills with blood, the penis becomes erect. Erection is maintained by the shutting down of the veins that carry blood away from the penis. When this mechanism is interrupted, erectile dysfunction can be the result.
In 2000, a study in China suggested that the number of cigarettes smoked by a man impacted his ability to gain an erection. The study also indicated that erectile dysfunction was even more prominent in those with diabetes as well. In addition, men who have high blood pressure may also be affected by ED due to certain side effects o the medications prescribed to regulate it.
Erectile dysfunction and heart disease:
It is no secret among health care professionals that erectile dysfunction is a warning signal of vascular disease. In fact, many men report that they experienced ED two to three years prior to a heart attack. It is very disappointing that this warning signal of a cardiac event is widely ignored by physicians.
Even though ED is a prime indicator for heart disease, it is most commonly recognized as a recreational problem rather than a warning sign of something more serious.
If you are a man with erectile dysfunction and you smoke, Viagra may not be the answer you seek or need. A cardiovascular work up may be in order instead.