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Erectile Dysfunction Linked To Rheumatoid Arthritis

Posted Jan 25 2010 12:00am

A team of researchers St. James Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, conducted a study that found the erectile dysfunction (ED) has a higher prevalence in men who have rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Previous studies have linked erectile dysfunction to vascular events, such as stroke and heart attacks, but this study indicates that there is also a link with inflammatory diseases such as RA.

“Based on our data, we’re saying that rheumatoid arthritis—a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease—could be a possible risk factor for erectile dysfunction. And at the same time, erectile dysfunction is an early warning sign of underlying cardiovascular disease that may not have been diagnosed yet.”

Barry Sheane, MB, BCh, BAO, Rheumatology Research Registrar at St. James’s Hospital in Dublin.

The researchers analyzed interview responses from 57 patients at rheumatology outpatient clinics. The interviews were used to determine if there were existing risk factors for cardio vascular disease, a prior history of cardio vascular events, and risks of ED, including pelvic surgery or trauma, central neurological and spinal cord pathology, benign prostatic hyperplasia, hypogonadism, depression, alcohol consumption, and stress. The participants also were given a routine medical assessment.

Thirty-three these patients had rheumatoid arthritis, while the remainder of the patients had various other forms of arthritis including , osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, connective tissue disease, or undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis.

Of the 57 patients in the study group, the researchers found that 39 (68%) had ED. Further, 51 of the patients (90%) over 65 years old with rheumatic disease had ED. This is significantly higher than the 20% seen in the general population.

Of the patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 26 (78%) had ED compared to only 11 (54%) of those with other rheumatic illnesses. In addition, the researchers found no relationship in the RA patients between ED and known risk factors for ED, such as smoking, dyslipidemia, or use of methotrexate.

The researchers also stated that close to 100% of the patients with some form of cardiovascular disease also had ED.

The researchers said that it was vital that rheumatic specialists ask their patients if they also suffered from ED in order to identify those who had an increased risk of ongoing cardiovascular disease.

The results of the study were presented at the 2009 American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting

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