SUNDAY, June 15, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Erectile dysfunction could be an indicator of testosterone deficiency and the metabolic syndrome, a set of factors that may indicate an increased risk of heart and vascular disease and type 2 diabetes, a new international study shows.
"Erectile dysfunction is a portal into men's health," the study's senior author, Dr. Aksam Yassin, of the Clinic for Urology and Andrology of the Segeberger Clinics in Norderstedt, Germany, wrote in a prepared statement.
"It is becoming clear that obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol problems and erectile difficulties are intertwined, and a common denominator is testosterone deficiency."
The research, conducted by scientists from The Netherlands, Germany and the United Arab Emirates, was expected to be presented over the weekend at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in San Francisco.
Yassin recommended that men with erectile dysfunction be evaluated for testosterone deficiency and any underlying signs of the metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome has any three of the following characteristics:
- Increased abdominal fat.
- Low HDL ("good") cholesterol.
- High triglycerides (fats in the blood).
- High blood pressure.
- High blood sugar.
The findings are based on screenings for testosterone deficiency, also known as hypogonadism, and metabolic syndrome done on 771 patients seeking treatment for erectile dysfunction.
Among the results:
- 18.3 percent of those studied had previously undetected testosterone deficiency, slighter higher than the 12 percent average for men older than 45.
- 35 percent had type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
- 31 percent had high blood pressure.
- 21 percent had dyslipidemia -- abnormal cholesterol or triglycerides.
- 14 percent had varying degrees of coronary heart disease.
In each group, a small handful of those diagnosed did not know they had the condition before the screening, Yassin said.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about erectile dysfunction.