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Lifestyle Modification May Decrease Incidents of Erectile Dysfunction

The February 2007 issue of The American Journal of Medicine reports that male sexual impotence (erectile dysfunction) was highly correlated 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).

The researchers estimate that as many as 18 million men may be affected with erectile dysfunction in the United States. The recent development of effective oral medications such as Viagra to treat erectile dysfunction has raised awareness and furnished treatment options. This study indicates that lifestyle changes like more physical activity, healthy diets, and other measures for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and diabetes may decrease incidents of erectile function without medication.

The goal of the study was to assess the prevalence of erectile dysfunction in the U.S. male population; to assess the association of cardiovascular risk factors among individuals with erectile dysfunction; and to determine associations of cardiovascular risk factors, including lack of physical activity with occurrences of erectile dysfunction.

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.

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 non-pharmacological 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.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Elsevier Health Sciences and Science News Daily.

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