Men with erectile dysfunction are at a significantly increased risk of high coronary artery calcification scores (CACS), a known predictor of future cardiovascular disease.

The study evaluated 1,119 men, 327 of which had  erectile dysfunction (ED). Those with ED had a 54 percent greater likelihood of having a high-risk CACS than men without ED, after adjusting for risk factors like diabetes, smoking, and obesity.

The increased risk was similar to that of patients with a history of hypertension and smoking.

This isn't the first such connection. A Mayo Clinic study last year found that men with erectile dysfunction are 80 percent more likely to develop heart disease compared to men who do not have the condition.

“Our data further solidify the concept that ED is a harbinger-indicator of current and future cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Natan Bar-Chama, Director of Male Reproductive Medicine and Surgery at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “These data show an indisputable connection between ED and atherosclerosis.”

The mean age of the men in the study was 50.5 years. All patients were evaluated with a cardiac CT scan to determine CACS. Erectile dysfunction was assessed using a questionnaire.

“The finding certainly raises the question as to what diagnostic tests we should perform in the newly diagnosed ED patient in order to assess cardiovascular risk,” he added. “For example, should we be recommending that CACS scores be obtained in all these patients? Also, should we routinely be measuring serum inflammatory markers, conducting assessment of endothelial function or cardiac stress testing? Guidelines are urgently needed to stratify cardiovascular risk in the newly diagnosed ED patient in light of the significant and clear association between ED and cardiovascular disease.”

The research was presented this week at the American Urological Association (AUA) meeting in San Francisco.