Erectile dysfunction, testosterone, coronary heart disease
Is Impotence An Alarm Bell For Heart Attack?By Dr. Gifford Jones
What caused the sudden heart attack? Ask anyone this question and many would accuse too much cholesterol, chronic stress, smoking, obesity or bad genetics. But what about the role of the male hormone testosterone in causing cardiovascular disease? Is erectile dysfunction (ED) an early warning sign of heart attack? And what can we learn about testosterone treatment from a London Harley Street specialist?
Recently much has been written about the male menopause (Andropause). How decreasing amounts of testosterone contribute to the increasing number of impotent males. But it appears there’s more to testosterone than sexual potency.
To find out about this exciting aspect of testosterone I recently met with Dr. Peter Collins, Professor of Clinical Cardiology at the Imperial College of Science and Medicine in London, England, a leading expert on testosterone and coronary heart disease.
Dr. Collins notes that it’s been known for years that men are more likely than women to suffer a coronary attack before age 50. Physicians believed that estrogen protects women from this disease while in males testosterone was the culprit.
But he believes studies now show this assumption to be wrong. Rather, mounting evidence demonstrates that normal amounts of testosterone help to protect against coronary disease. And that males with low testosterone may be more likely to suffer heart attack.
For instance, Collins’ research shows that testosterone increases the flow of blood through coronary arteries by as much as 15 to 20 per cent. This explains why patients suffering from angina (chest pain that occurs during exercise) have been helped by testosterone treatment. In addition to increasing blood flow testosterone also decreases blood cholesterol and fibrinogen, the small particles that help to form blood clots.
Another researcher, Dr. Steven Grover, professor of medicine at McGill University, recently reported that erectile dysfunction may be an early warning signal for cardiovascular disease.
He says,” In approximately 25 per cent of cardiovascular patients their first symptom of cardiovascular disease is that they drop dead.” No one would call this an encouraging symptom. All the more reason for finding a sign to indicate an attack was likely to happen.
Dr. Grover’s study compared 4,000 men with and without cardiovascular disease. It showed that men with cardiovascular disease had a 54 percent probability of having ED than those without cardiovascular disease.
He believes this suggests that ED may be an early warning sign that heart disease is present. “If this is the case then doctors would be screening patients for ED, not because they want to probe into their bedroom activities, but rather to determine their risk of cardiovascular disease”, he says.
This study by Dr. Grover should not be a surprising finding. A satisfactory sexual response depends on adequate flow of blood into the male organ. And with hardening of the arteries, diminished blood flow isn’t going to help sexual response.
Testosterone also helps to fight one of this nation’s biggest killers. Obese diabetics often develop what is known as insulin resistance. They may have adequate amounts of insulin, but the cells refuse to accept it. It’s like having enough gas in the car, but the engine refuses to use it. Testosterone’s beneficial effect is increasing the effectiveness of insulin.
While In London I also met with Dr. Malcolm Carruthers, a distinguished Harley Street pioneer in testosterone treatment. He’s treated 1,500 impotent males, those who had lost the tiger-in-the-tank, lacked energy, were depressed and suffering from impotence.
Carruthers had a strong message about treating andropause patients. He claimed doctors were fortunate that an oral form of testosterone (Andriol) is available in Canada. But doctors relied too much on blood testosterone levels in deciding whether or not to treat patients. That often the correlation between blood levels and symptoms was weak. And that doctors should trust symptoms more when treating andropause.
During an afternoon at Dr. Carruthers’ clinic, several happy males were being treated. One elderly male left with a gleam in his eye. He left no doubt that he would be shortly courting his lady. And in the pursuit testosterone may also protect him from a heart attack.(0) Reader Feedback | Email Article | Email Us | Print friendly
Dr. Gifford Jones Bio
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W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of The Harvard Medical School. He’s been a ship’s surgeon, hotel physician and family doctor and later trained in surgery at McGill in Montreal, University of Rochester N.Y. and Harvard. His medical column is published by 60 Canadian newspapers and several in the U.S. He is the author of seven books. Dr. Walker has a medical practice in Toronto. His Web site is: http://www.mydoctor.ca/gifford-jones