Your body is a network of bones, muscles, nerves, veins, arteries, and organs that all help to provide basic functions to keep you going. Your circulatory system is a vital part of that network, as it is responsible for transporting oxygen, nutrients and other important materials throughout your body in your blood. This system works using an ingenious method called blood pressure, which is how your heart pumps blood through your body up to 100 times a minute every day.
But blood pressure needs to be kept at healthy levels, otherwise you can develop a number of problems related to high blood pressure, or hypertension. This condition alone can lead to cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney problems, eye problems, and even issues with your ability to get and maintain an erection. To discover how this happens and what you can do about it, let’s do our part in hypertension awareness month and explore how this condition affects your body and can lead to erectile dysfunction (ED) and look at your treatment options.
If you live in the Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, or Greater South Florida area and you’re dealing with erectile dysfunction, Drs. Craig Herman and Steven Kester, and their team at Urology Center of Florida can help.
How hypertension affects the body
When your heart beats, it forces blood throughout your circulatory system and exerts pressure on your arteries and blood vessels. When too much pressure is put on those blood vessels, it can damage and weaken them, leading to a range of problems such as atherosclerosis, heart failure, aneurysm, stroke, and hypertensive retinopathies in the eye.
Your blood pressure is measured by the force your heart uses as it beats (systolic pressure), and the space between those beats (diastolic pressure). Expressed as systolic pressure over diastolic pressure, normal blood pressure is around 120/80. Anything above that presents different levels of danger (elevated, grade 1 hypertension, grade 2 hypertension, hypertensive crisis). Nearly half of American adults have high blood pressure, and most of them don’t even know it.
How it causes erectile dysfunction
The proper amount of blood flow is necessary to get and maintain an erection, and if you’re having circulatory and cardiovascular problems like those listed above, that basic function can be compromised. Long-term issues with hypertension can result in damaged blood vessels, which leads to leaking, narrowing, or rupturing, making it more difficult for blood to get around in your body. This is a major part of why the conditions are linked, and studies show that 71% of men at high risk of hypertension also have issues with ED.
Some medications for hypertension, like beta blockers, aldosterone antagonists, and thiazide diuretics, can also create issues with erectile dysfunction. If you have ED, it is recommended to avoid medications like metoprolol, spironolactone, chlorthalidone, and atenolol (Tenormin).
How it can be treated
If blood pressure problems are the primary cause of ED, getting your blood pressure under control should be an important priority. Reducing stress; making dietary changes to include more whole grains, vegetables, fruits and lean protein; and getting more regular exercise will help with reducing problems. Reducing sodium (only 1,500 milligrams daily), fats, and sugars will also make a difference, as will eating fewer processed foods. These are all immediate things you can do to both lower blood pressure and reduce issues with ED.
Medications that can help to improve ED if you’re dealing with hypertension include Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors, arterial vasodilators, and Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs).
Erectile dysfunction can be a depressing and awkward condition, but you shouldn’t suffer in silence. We can help. Call or message us today to make an appointment with Drs. Herman and Kester and the Urology Center of Florida to get treatment for ED.