A recently published study shows that reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors can significantly improve sexual functioning and quality of life among men.

Experts discovered that erectile dysfunction, a risk factor for atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease, can be modified by lifestyle modifications and pharmaceutical treatment.

Additional risks for cardiovascular disease that a person can change on their own include hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, cigarette smoking, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and sedentary behavior.

Researchers analyzed six previous randomized controlled trials from four countries to evaluate the effects of lifestyle intervention and pharmaceutical treatment of cardiovascular risk factors on the severity of erectile dysfunction (ED).

Study findings are published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers have learned that erectile dysfunction is common among individuals with multiple cardiovascular risk factors. ED may serve as the sentinel marker for cardiovascular disease — that is, erectile dysfunction may be the first sign of the problem.

The six trials examined in the meta-analysis included a total of 740 participants, with the number of participants per trial ranging from 12 to 372. Average age of the participants was 55.4 years and the study duration ranged from 12 to 104 weeks.

All studies included in the analysis showed improvement in ED with lifestyle changes and improvement in blood lipid parameters.

The authors found that improvement in cardiovascular risk factors was associated with statistically significant improvement in sexual function in men with erectile dysfunction.

Lifestyle modifications alone (without use of pharmaceuticals) significantly improved sexual function. Pharmaceutical treatment targeting cardiovascular risk factors also demonstrated improvement in sexual function.

“In summary, this study further strengthens the evidence of improvement in ED and maintenance of sexual function with lifestyle intervention and cardiovascular risk factor reduction,” the authors write.

“Men with ED provide an opportunity to identify cardiovascular risk factors and initiate lifestyle changes.”

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals