Jun 14, 2011
There appears to be a relationship between erectile dysfunction (ED) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to researchers from New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center.
Their preliminary findings were presented last month at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association in Washington DC. The study was noted for being the largest study of its kind to report an independent link between ED and OSA, after controlling for cardiovascular factors.
The study participants were 870 middle-aged men who were enrolled in the Law Enforcement Cardiac Screening Program. This group is part of the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program.
Initial screening showed that almost 27% of the men had erectile dysfunction. 63% of the men had OSA, 5.6% had a history of diabetes, and 29% had smoked.
The men had a mean body mass index (BMI) of 30.2. Men with this BMI are considered obese.
After the researchers took other health conditions into account, they discovered that men who had ED were over 2 times more likely to have OSA than men who didn’t have ED. Men with more severe cases of ED were even more likely to have OSA.
For example, 59% of men with normal erectile function had OSA. For men with mild ED, this number rose to 72%. And 88% of men with severe ED had obstructive sleep apnea.
As a result, the researchers suggested that men with erectile dysfunction be screened for OSA.
Erectile dysfunction occurs when a man is unable to have or maintain an erection suitable for satisfying sex.
Sleep apnea is disorder that causes a person to stop breathing for short periods during sleep. These periods usually last from a few seconds to a few minutes and can occur several times an hour.
Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form, is caused by an airway blockage.
Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and irregular heartbeats.