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Any man who’s ever suffered with impotence knows it can seriously impact the quality of his life. But impotence can also be a warning sign of something even more severe — Heart Disease.
In fact, I heard from Mark Houston, MD, director of clinical research at the Hypertension Institute of Nashville and associate clinical professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, that he asks male patients if they have trouble with erections as a standard component of a comprehensive physical exam, since one type of Erectile Dysfunction — endothelial dysfunction — has been linked to Heart Disease.
Specifically, the thin layer of cells (the endothelium) that lines the blood vessels produces various chemicals in the body, including hormones, that control inflammation, clotting, oxidative Stress and constriction and dilation — in other words, the general health of the blood vessels. The endothelium is vulnerable to many chemical stressors that can disrupt function, affecting all those processes, Dr. Houston explained. “When you have Erectile Dysfunction, there’s almost always endothelial dysfunction as well.”
According to Dr. Houston, endothelial dysfunction is a strong warning sign for early vascular disease, and a high predictor of future Cardiovascular events like Heart Attack or stroke. Impotence is but one of the many markers that may indicate impaired functioning of the blood vessels, Dr. Houston said. Others he listed include High Blood Pressure, high Cholesterol, Diabetes, Insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
Though drugs like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra may be tremendously helpful in solving the impotence part of the problem, “they are too short-acting to be helpful over the long term for the rest of the circulatory system,” Dr. Houston told me. His preference is to use natural products to improve function and resolve ED. Resveratrol, the powerful Antioxidant found in red wine that’s believed to be responsible for many of wine’s health benefits, can be helpful.
He also prescribes the Amino Acids L-arginine and L-citrullene — but, as always, it’s important to speak with your own doctor or seek the advice of a naturopathic physician before using these or any other Natural Remedies.
Of course, impotence can also be a signal that something is amiss neurologically or psychologically or it might be a side effect of medications. But, says Dr. Houston, when a young or middle-aged man who is not on prescription drugs has Erectile Dysfunction, it’s a flag that should alert your doctor to search for evidence of endothelial dysfunction and vascular disease — and as such it should never be ignored, self-medicated or kept to yourself.
Mark Houston, MD, MS, director of clinical research at the Hypertension Institute of Nashville and associate clinical professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Dr. Houston is also a staff physician at St. Thomas Medical Group and the Vascular Institute of St. Thomas Hospital and author of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Hypertension (Warner).
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