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March 17, 2010
By now, men have probably heard that erectile dysfunction (ED), which the National Institutes of Health defines as the "inability to get or keep an erection firm enough" to do the deed, isn't just an emasculating sexual problem. It's also increasingly being recognized as a sign that something could be amiss in the cardiovascular department. New research adds more.
Research on over 1,500 men published this week in the journal Circulation suggests that for those who have cardiovascular disease, ED is a "potent predictor" of serious trouble ahead: Having both appears to raise the chance of dying from any cause and of dying from cardiovascular disease, and it seems to double the risk of having a heart attack compared with men with cardiovascular disease but no erectile issues. What's more, the researchers reported, the worse the ED, the greater those risks appear to be.
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March 1, 2010
Everyone's got enemies. But our fiercest foe is heart disease. It's the No. 1 killer of Americans, and while it affects both sexes, it tends to nab men at an earlier age than it does women. Just last month, however, the Food and Drug Administration made a move that many cardiologists call a boon for prevention: The agency OK'd the use of a cholesterol-lowering drug, a statin called Crestor, in folks whose cholesterol levels are normal and whose doctors haven't diagnosed them with heart disease. The move aims to better shield millions more Americans against future heart attacks, strokes, heart procedures, and surgery.
The FDA's decision hinged on the results of a large study, called the Jupiter trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008. Jupiter took almost 18,000 middle-aged adults and assigned them to either Crestor or a sugar pill. Under national guidelines, the study participants would not have normally been prescribed a statin because their levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol weren't high enough (all had LDL's below 130 mg/dL), explains Paul Ridker, a cardiologist at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and lead author of the study, which was funded by AstraZeneca, the drug's maker. But all of the participants had elevated levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), a measure of inflammation. While inflammation is the body's natural response to infection and injury, it also foments artery-clogging plaque and seems to make that plaque more likely to rupture and cause blood clots that trigger heart attacks and strokes, experts say. Researchers hoped Crestor might lower the risk of cardiovascular problems since statins also reduce CRP.