In a study published in the February 2007 issue of The American Journal of Medicine, researchers report that erectile dysfunction was significantly and independently associated with age, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and lack of physical activity. There was an especially high prevalence of erectile dysfunction among men with hypertension and diabetes, suggesting that screening for erectile dysfunction in these patients may be warranted. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Hospital analyzed data from 2126 men who participated in the 2001-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
As many as 18 million men may be affected with erectile dysfunction in the United States. The recent development of effective oral medications to treat erectile dysfunction has raised awareness and furnished treatment options, however lifestyle changes like increase of physical activity, stricter dietary control and other measures for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and diabetes may prevent decrease in erectile function.
The study was undertaken to assess the prevalence of erectile dysfunction in the general U.S. male population overall and by age; to assess the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors among individuals with erectile dysfunction; and to determine associations of cardiovascular risk factors, including lack of physical activity with prevalent erectile dysfunction. Prevalence estimates from this study are nationally representative of the noninstitutionalized adult male population in the United States.
Using data obtained from a computer-assisted self-interview in a private room, the authors found that 18.4% of men 20 years and older experienced erectile dysfunction, defined as "sometimes able" or "never able" to get and keep an erection. Demographic data, cardiovascular risk factors and levels of physical activity were extracted from the NHANES study.
Writing in the article, investigator Elizabeth Selvin, PhD, MPH, states, "The association between erectile dysfunction and lack of physical activity suggests that lifestyle changes, especially increasing exercise level, may be effective nonpharmacological treatments. The associations between erectile dysfunction and diabetes and other known cardiovascular risk factors should serve as powerful motivators for male patients for whom diet and lifestyle changes are needed to improve their cardiovascular risk profile. These data suggest physical activity and other measures for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and diabetes may prevent decrease in erectile function."
The study is "Prevalence and Risk Factors for Erectile Dysfunction in the US" by Elizabeth Selvin, PhD, MPH, Arthur L. Burnett, MD, and Elizabeth A. Platz, ScD, MPH. It appears in The American Journal of Medicine, Volume 120, Issue 2 (February 2007), published by Elsevier.