ORIGINAL RESEARCH—EPIDEMIOLOGY: Erectile Dysfunction Is a Marker for Cardiovascular Disease: Results of the Minority Health Institute Expert Advisory Panel


Kevin Billups, MD, The Epicentre for Sexual Health & Medicine, University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis, MN, USA. Tel: (612)202-9082; Fax: (952)226-3808; E-mail: klbillups@earthlink.net


Conflict of Interest. Dr Billups—Research/grant support/speakers’ bureau (Pfizer Inc); Consultation (Pfizer Inc, Bayer, Eli Lilly); Stock holdings (none). Dr Bank—Consultancy, honoraria, research grants (Pfizer Inc). Dr Padma-Nathan—Research support/consultation (Pfizer, Bayer/GSK, LillyICOS, Novartis, Lilly, Schering Plough, Dong A, Vivus, Sepracor, TAP Pharmaceuticals, Abbott Labs, Palatin Technologies, Nastech); Lecturer (Pfizer, Bayer/GSK); Stock (None, inclusive of family members). Dr Katz—Honoraria, research support (Pfizer Inc). Dr Williams—No financial information to disclose.


Introduction.  Cardiovascular disease and its related comorbidities are associated with significant morbidity and mortality and affect a disproportionately large number of African Americans and Hispanics. The prevalence of cardiovascular disease is increasing worldwide, which underscores the urgency to improve methods of prevention and early detection.

Aim.  To develop a risk assessment and management algorithm for primary care patients with erectile dysfunction (ED) that facilitates diagnosis, early intervention, and prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Methods.  The Minority Health Institute (MHI) convened an Expert Advisory Panel of cardiologists and urologists to design a new practice model algorithm that uses ED as a clinical tool for early identification of men with systemic vascular disease. A draft of the algorithm was presented at a national symposium and comments from symposium participants were considered in the development of the final algorithm.

Main Outcome Measures and Results.  Erectile dysfunction is common and has long been considered a secondary complication of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia. However, a growing body of evidence challenges this view, suggesting instead that ED is an early manifestation of atherosclerosis and a precursor to systemic vascular disease. Endothelial dysfunction is the etiologic factor linking ED and cardiovascular disease.

Conclusions.  The recognition of ED as an early sign of systemic cardiovascular disease offers an opportunity for prevention, particularly in high-risk and underserved minority populations. The MHI algorithm stipulates that all men 25 years old and older regardless of sexual dysfunction complaints should be asked about ED. The presence of ED should prompt an aggressive assessment for cardiovascular risk and occult systemic vascular disease.