The early warning sign all men should heed

Consumer Reports News: November 06, 2008 04:19 PM

Most men have problems getting an erection from time to time. It's not something many men feel comfortable talking about. But if your partner has trouble with erections a lot of the time, they really need to talk to their doctor.

Erection problems can cause heartache and distress for a couple. But they can also be a warning sign of physical problems. About 8 in 10 men who regularly have difficulty getting an erection have a physical cause for their symptoms, like diabetes or early heart disease.

In fact, regular erection problems can be seen as an early warning sign that your partner may have a heart attack in the next two to three years, doctors have warned. The risk that an erection may be a warning sign of heart disease is especially relevant to older men.

One cause of erection problems is blood vessels becoming narrow and blocked. If the small blood vessels that supply the penis are getting blocked, chances are the bigger blood vessels supplying the heart are getting blocked too. If one of these blood vessels becomes completely blocked, you have a heart attack. Doctors should always check for signs of heart disease and diabetes in men with erection problems.

What you need to know. It's not easy for a man to talk to his doctor about erection problems. But it's definitely worth it. There are good treatments for erection problems, and good treatments to prevent a heart attack, if they are needed. It's worth overcoming a bit of embarrassment for that.

—Anna Sayburn, patient editor, BMJ Group has partnered with The BMJ Group to monitor the latest medical research and assess the evidence to help you decide which news you should use.

Read more on questions to ask your doctor (free) if you have erection problems, and see our Treatment Ratings (subscribers only) for erection problems. And find out what men think about ads for ED drugs, such as Cialis.

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