Erectile dysfunction (ED) is basically the consistent or recurrent inability of a man to attain or maintain a penile erection for intercourse. ED is a type of male sexual dysfunction that causes a lot of distress among men, and yet, awareness about it isn’t as widespread as it needs to be, especially in India.
Link between hypertension and ED
A study published in Vascular Health and Risk Management in June 2020 revealed that ED incidence is linked with a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes and hypertension. In the case of hypertension, in particular, it’s popularly believed that treatments for high blood pressure — specifically medications used to treat hypertension — can either cause ED or worsen it in hypertensive patients showing early signs of ED.
New research presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2020 not only disagrees with this popular notion about hypertension medications but actually indicates that men with untreated hypertension have higher chances of developing ED because they have poor penile blood flow.
Do antihypertension drugs make ED worse?
This new study included 356 men with erectile dysfunction who enrolled at a clinic between 2006 and 2019. These men had no history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease and were divided into three categories according to their blood pressure: normal, high-normal and hypertensive. Of these, 164 patients across the three categories were treated with antihypertensive medications to analyse if the drugs caused ED in men without blood pressure problems too. All the patients later underwent a Doppler ultrasound to evaluate penile blood vessel status and flow.
Penile blood flow is considered to be damaged or deterred when its velocity is less than 25cm per second. The study’s results show that penile blood flow was fastest in those with normal blood pressure, and as the blood pressure levels climbed, the penile blood flow kept getting slower and slower. This is the reason why those in the high-normal blood pressure group had slower penile flow, and those with hypertension had the slowest. More significantly, the study showed that penile blood flow velocity was the same among all the patients who took antihypertension medications across the three categories.
The need to handle hypertension and ED with care
The study indicates that hypertension causes damage to the penile blood vessels to such an extent that ED incidence is more than twice as likely to occur. It also shows that the administration of hypertension medications actually improves the blood flow through the same vessels enough to be at the same level as that in men without hypertension.
Additional analysis of the data gathered from this study also indicated that penile blood flow was worse in men who did not have hypertension but were treated with antihypertension medicines. The researchers behind this study, therefore, urged the need for proper hypertension diagnosis and drug prescriptions only after high blood pressure incidence is established. They further called for doctors to treat hypertension patients with ED symptoms with greater care since changing their treatment is clearly a delicate process and may further impede penile blood flow and worsen their ED.
For more information, read our article on Erectile dysfunction.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.