A Dipstick For The Heart

No, we’re not talking about romance here. Similar to how arteries around the heart can become blocked and cause a heart attack, called atherosclerosis, arteries in other parts of the body can also be affected.

Wherever it happens, when an organ can’t get enough blood supply because of atherosclerosis, the organ doesn’t function normally and can cause symptoms. For the heart, this can mean angina – chest pain from the blockages – or even a heart attack if the artery becomes completely closed. For the penis, similar blockages can be a cause of a penis attack! Just kidding, there’s no such thing, but it can cause difficulty achieving or maintaining erections. This is called erectile dysfunction (ED).

It’s true… believe it or not, erections are a lot more complicated than just being in the mood and getting the blood flowing. Other than atherosclerosis, not being able to fulfill the “call to action” can also indicate problems with nerves, emotions, or the soldier himself. The reason why the penis is a good dipstick for the heart though is that research shows ED is associated with dying from a cardiovascular cause (like a heart attack or stroke). The important part is that ED happens about 2-3 years before any symptoms of heart disease and about 3-5 years before any actual event.1 Those are valuable years where you and your doctor can discuss the best ways to control other risk factors for heart disease you may have like blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight among other things.

What does all this mean for you? Well, if you have ED, talk to your doctor because your dipstick could be trying to give you important information about your risk of heart disease. People often say to think with your brain, not with your penis. We generally agree, but don’t forget to listen to what your penis is trying to tell you.

Have more questions about this? Click here. Our team will get back to you within 1-2 business days.

 

Published by: Mark P. Abrams, MD

I'm an Internist, Educator, and Cardiology fellow in training. As the Director of Patient Engagement at Heartbeat Health, my goal is to make trustworthy information easily accessible and more available so that people can become more active members of their healthcare teams. By joining together, we can work toward keeping more people healthier, happier, and living longer fulfilling lives.

Categories Risk Factors, Sex and Heart DiseaseLeave a comment

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