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Statins Use Tied to Improve Erectile Function

Update Date: Mar 29, 2014 10:17 PM EDT

According to a new study, statins, which are prescribed for patients with high cholesterol, might improve men's erectile function while reducing the patient's risk of a heart attack.

For this study, the research team conducted a meta-analysis on 11 previous trials that examined erectile function. The trials were randomized and controlled. Erectile dysfunction occurs when a man cannot get or keep an erection for sexual intercourse. This condition is most commonly seen in older men with cardiovascular risk factors. In these studies, erectile function was measured by using the International Inventory of Erectile Function, which is a survey made up of five questions. The five questions were scored on a five-point scale and all of the answers were self-reported.

The researchers found that statins had a statistically significant effect on erectile function in men who dealt with erectile dysfunction and high cholesterol. Men who took statins reported improved erectile function. The researchers reasoned that statins could improve erectile function because these drugs help blood vessels dilate, which could then improve blood flow to the penis. However, the cholesterol-lowering drugs are not recommended for men with erectile dysfunction.

"The increase in erectile function scores with statins was approximately one-third to one-half of what has been reported with drugs like Viagra, Cialis or Levitra," said lead investigator of the study, John B. Kostis, M.D., director of the Cardiovascular Institute and associate dean for Cardiovascular Research at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. "It was larger than the reported effect of lifestyle modification. For men with erectile dysfunction who need statins to control cholesterol, this may be an extra benefit."

The researchers hope that this study's findings could encourage men with high cholesterol to take their statins. Roughly 18 to 30 million men have erectile dysfunction. The condition tends to manifest in men over 40-years-old. Some of the risk factors include heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, tobacco use, depression and stress.

The study will be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 63rd Annual Scientific Session.

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