ED typically stands for erectile dysfunction…
But it could also mean “early death.”
There is a proven and serious link between these two variations of ED—erectile dysfunction and early death.
In fact, erectile dysfunction may be one of the first and most prominent indicators of increased risk for early death. A study at the University of Mississippi—which researched 1,790 men over the course of seven years—found that risk of death was 70% higher in men with erectile dysfunction than without.
Moreover, they found that ED wasn’t just a predictor of increased risk of death in later years with older men. Erectile dysfunction in young men also shows this same increased death rate. And with nearly 25% of men under age 40 suffering from ED, these associated risks of early death at a young age are alarming.
But how could this be? Isn’t erectile dysfunction just a “down there” problem? What does your penis have to do with your lifespan?
The Cause of ED
Let’s first start this discussion by talking about the causes of erectile dysfunction.
ED is the inability to get or maintain an erection.
In order for you to get an erection, your penis has to fill up with blood. When your body starts to feel sexy, it releases hormones like testosterone and nitric oxide (NO). These signal your body and penis that it’s time to start preparing for sex. Nitric oxide relaxes the penile muscles and opens up the blood vessels. This loosens the blood vessels so they can push blood to the penis in order to get an erection.
This means that you need both a healthy hormonal system, neurological system, and vascular or blood system working in tandem to get an erection. (Did you know that much was going on in your body when you’re trying to get it on?)
If one of these systems isn’t functioning properly, you can’t get an erection. For example, if you have unbalanced hormones, your body may be overloaded with cortisol and can’t produce the necessary NO to get an erection. Or if you have anxiety, your brain may not have the capacity to send necessary signals to your endocrine system. Even a porn addiction can cause erectile dysfunction.
ED has a variety of causes, but the primary reason for erectile dysfunction is vascular dysfunction.
“Vascular” refers to your blood vessels. A vascular dysfunction can come from constricted blood vessels, injury to the blood vessels, or plaque buildup in the vessels.
Basically, you need clean and clear blood vessels to push blood flow to the penis in order to get an erection.
If you don’t have clear blood vessels, erectile dysfunction ensues.
“Plaque” is the gunk that clogs the arteries or blood vessels. This is what we refer to as the “hardening” of the arteries, medically referred to as “atherosclerosis.” Basically, cholesterol starts to cling on to the sides of your blood vessels. This clogs up your arteries so blood flow is restricted.
Think of it like a hairball in your shower (I know, it’s your partner’s fault). The hairball latches on to the side of the pipe. A small clump of hair still lets water flow down. But as the hairball grows, it starts letting less and less water flow. Water begins to backup into your shower or bath because the water can’t flow as easily with the growing hairball stuck in the way.
Plaque buildup creates this same sort of narrowing of the blood vessels. It begins to clog up the vascular system so blood can’t flow as easily.
Your body needs blood in order to function properly. Without adequate blood flow, your body can shut down within minutes.
In the brain, clogged arteries cause memory loss, dementia, and stroke.
In the heart, clogged arteries cause angina (chest pain), heart attacks, heart disease, and cardiovascular conditions.
This obstruction of blood flow is what causes heart disease, heart attack, and other fatal diseases.
Erectile Dysfunction and Plaque Buildup
Plaque buildup happens everywhere throughout the body, not just your heart. It’s not restricted to the heart, as we often belief. The heart is often place we care most about, because clogged heart arteries lead to heart disease and heart attacks.
But, in reality, all the blood vessels in your body start to develop the same buildup of cholesterol at the same time.
This means that the vessels in your penis are narrowing at the same rate as the vessels in your heart.
But the vessels in your penis are smaller than those in other places in your body. In fact, the penile arteries are about half the size of coronary ones. This means they can close up twice as fast.
Think of it this way. Is it easier to clog a small sink drain or a large shower drain? What if you used the same sized hairball in both? A large hairball will clog up a narrower sink drain faster than a thicker shower drain.
Plaque buildup first shows sign in the narrower penile blood vessels than the thicker arteries in other parts of the body.
If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction, it could be because your penis isn’t getting adequate blood flow and there’s likely some sort of vascular clog in the way—like plaque and cholesterol buildup.
If there’s buildup in your penile arteries, there’s buildup in all the arteries in your body, which means that the arteries in your heart are also hardening and clogging.
Erectile dysfunction is the first warning sign of plaque buildup and hardening arteries.
In fact, these two are so linked that ED is often called “penile angina.”
Thus, erectile dysfunction is the first symptom and sign of heart disease, heart attack, dementia, and stroke.
ED = Warning Sign
Heart disease is the result of plaque buildup in the arteries near the heart.
Stroke is the result of plaque buildup in the arteries in the brain.
Erectile dysfunction is often the result of plaque buildup in the arteries in the penis.
Plaque buildup throughout the body happens all at the same time.
So if you’re showing signs of plaque buildup in one area (like the penis), it means your entire body’s blood vessels have that same buildup.
So erectile dysfunction does not cause heart disease or stroke.
But it may be your first clue that something serious is going on in your body.
So stop ignoring your erectile dysfunction!
In fact, one study found that nearly 70% of patients rushed to the ER for chest pain—whether angina or heart attack—had erectile dysfunction symptoms leading up to hospitalization.
You read that right.
7 in 10 men with heart concerns first showed erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction is your body’s red flag.
Another study found that doctors can predict the hardening of the coronary arteries and related cardiac stress with an accuracy of 80% after measuring blood flow in the penis.
Yup, doctors use a PCDU (penile color Doppler ultrasound) to measure the blood in a flaccid penis, and they can tell how severe your heart disease is with 80% accuracy.
So why aren’t more men getting their penile blood vessels checked out?
Because they don’t know that erectile dysfunction is the first sign of serious diseases.
They don’t know that ED is linked to overall mortality and cardiovascular mortality rates.
They don’t know that having erectile dysfunction makes you 70% more likely to die an early death.
But now you know.
So what can you do about it?
Reducing Your ED2 Risk
Don’t just think about your penis.
When most men get erectile dysfunction, they think first and foremost about the consequences in the bedroom.
Of course you want to solve your ED so you can have a healthy sex life again.
But, as we’ve come to find, ED is more than just a “down there” problem. ED can be a symptom of a serious underlying disease.
That’s why taking pills like Viagra can be so dangerous. You’re masking the symptoms and pretending everything is okay, rather than seeing ED as the serious symptom it is.
So focus on addressing the root cause of your erectile dysfunction: the blood vessels.
If you can clear out your blood vessels, you’ll likely stop having erectile dysfunction and you’ll have a healthier heart and brain.
The Rancho Bernardo Study found that risk factors for heart disease are also the risk factors for erectile dysfunction. Improving these risk factors in mid-life can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and erectile dysfunction.
So focusing on heart health will ensure erectile health and vice versa.
Keep in mind that not all men will suffer erectile dysfunction due to a vascular dysfunction like plaque buildup. ED can also be a hormonal or psychological concern.
Nevertheless, ED doesn’t happen “just because.” It often signals some other underlying concern, like diabetes or chronic stress.
See how ED can be your best friend in alerting you to other problems in your body?
Talk to a doctor to discover the cause of your ED—and how to attack the problem at its core.
Reduce your body’s inflammation.
Atherosclerosis is a systemic inflammatory condition. This means that those with chronic inflammation are at a greater risk of plaque buildup.
Chronic inflammation may be linked to almost all deadly diseases, including cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. It’s also been linked to—you guessed it— erectile dysfunction.
Click here to learn more about this silent killer and how to overcome chronic inflammation fast.
Eat a Mediterranean diet.
The Mediterranean diet has been shown to have positive results on both your heart and penis. This diet cleans out your arteries, reducing gunk from clogging up your vessels.
The Mediterranean diet consists of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, olive oil, and legumes. Olive oil especially has been linked to a decrease in cardiovascular disease and early mortality rates. This article by EatingWell makes the Mediterranean diet easy to understand.
Want to get exact recipes and foods you should be eating for heart and sexual health?
The Mediterranean diet also improves metabolic syndrome, endothelial function, and inflammatory markers. Metabolic syndrome increases your risk of early death due to its conditions of pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. Learn more about overcoming metabolic syndrome for optimal health here.
Moreover, you should avoid any inflammatory or vessel-clogging foods. This includes packaged and processed foods, animal meats (in high quantities), soy, flaxseed, dairy, fried foods, salt, and alcohol. Learn more about the 7 foods causing your erectile dysfunction and clogging your arteries.
You should also focus on keeping your vitamin D levels high. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to erectile dysfunction and other health concerns, including cancer, diabetes, bone loss, and heart disease.
Also check out: 13 Natural Vasodilators To Treat Your ED
When you get the blood pumping with physical activity, you’re forcing blood to flow through the veins. This can actually help unclog your veins and get rid of plaque buildup.
Cardio gets the blood moving and the heart pumping, which helps clear out any gunk and keep your vessels clear.
Let’s go back to that shower clog. You may pour a heavy-duty clog solution like Plumr or Power Plumber down the drain (rather than snaking the drain, which we all hate to do). These solutions work in a similar way as a surge of blood from working out. It helps push out the clogs because the pressure is so powerful.
Working out is one of the healthiest ways to keep your blood free of serious buildup.
Stop thinking you’re immune.
If you’re under 40 and you have erectile dysfunction, you’re at the same risks of early death as men over 40.
You’re also not alone. Nearly 25% of men under 40 suffer from erectile dysfunction at some point.
If you have erectile dysfunction under 40, you should be even more aware of your vascular and heart health. It’s critical that you talk to your doctor about lifestyle and eating habits to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and risk factors.
No matter who you are or what age you are, if you have erectile dysfunction, it’s time to visit the doc.
Erectile dysfunction is not something to be ashamed of.
Think of ED as your body’s way of saying, “Hey, guy! Wake up!”
I know you want to have vibrant, passionate sex once again.
I know you want to have a healthy heart, brain, and blood flow.
And I know you want to live a long and energetic life.
So stop waiting to take your health into your hands.