Risk Factors

Overview- Underlying Conditions

There are several risk factors for the development of ED that can occur alone or in combination and are referred to as underlying conditions. It is important for the healthcare professional to identify these risk factors to provide a holistic approach to the health problems of their male patients and to prevent them from future diseases or worsening of the already existing ones.

The 4 most relevant risk factors for the development of ED are:

Hypertension and Cardiovascular disease:
Chronic damage of the endothelium leads to arteriosclerosis of the aorta and the arteries supplying the pelvis and penis.

Diabetes mellitus:
The single most common cause of ED by virtue of its combined nerve and blood vessel damage. At least 40% of male diabetics have ED.1 In these patients ED severity is more profound and less responsive to treatments compared to other underlying conditions.

Elevated blood level of cholesterol and LDL again leads to endothelial damage and over time to a decrease blood flow in the penile vessels.

Metabolic syndrome:
This is a mix of some or all the above mentioned causes for ED in addition to abdominal obesity and there is evidence that the more symptoms of the metabolic syndrome a man has the more likely he will develop ED.

Dr. Ridwan Shabsigh's Health risk Calculator

A good way to assess your own health risk is to make a test using the Men‘s Health risk calculator. This tool was tested and provides a valuable instrument for the self assessment for the man.

Risk Factors
Figure 1: Relationship between endothelial dysfunction-related risk factors in vascular diseases and erectile dysfunction. Adapted from Saenz de Tejada I et al. In: Erectile dysfunction. Jardin A et al. (eds). 2000; 65–102

1. Spollett GR. Diabetes Educ 1999; 25(1): 65-73.