Can problems in the bedroom be an early warning sign of a dodgy heart?
A Massey University PhD student is trying to answer this by researching links between erectile dysfunction and impending cardiovascular problems.
Merrin Quilter, a nutritionist whose previous post-graduate study focused on prostate cancer, said at the heart of the matter was blood flow.
She said overseas research suggested erectile dysfunction could be the first warning sign of cardiovascular disease.
''Atherosclerosis and vascular generation occurs in smaller vessels in the penis before it occurs in the larger vessels in the heart.''
Atherosclerosis is a common disorder that occurs when fat, cholesterol, and other substances build up in the walls of arteries, restricting blood flow.
''They often show no other signs,'' Ms Quilter said. ''Men need to come forward when they start noticing this symptom so they can seek treatment.''
As part of the study, Ms Quilter has sent out survey forms to 2000 men nationwide; she hopes as many as possible complete them.
She is also looking for 300 Manawatu men to take part in an observational study investigating the relationship between wellness, lifestyle and diet in those between 40 and 70.
Erectile dysfunction is a common condition, estimated to affect more than half of men over 40.
Ms Quilter said erectile dysfunction was previously seen as being caused by psychological issues, stress or relationship difficulties, but it could potentially be helped by diet and exercise.
As a symptom, erectile dysfunction was thought to occur between two and five years before a major cardiovascular event, she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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