December 3, 2014

Mediterranean Diet Improves Cardiovascular Function in Men With Erectile Dysfunction

VIENNA, Austria -- December 3, 2014 -- The Mediterranean diet is linked to improved cardiovascular function in patients with erectile dysfunction, according to a study presented at EuroEcho-Imaging 2014, the annual meeting of the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging (EACVI), a branch of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

The study also showed that patients with erectile dysfunction who had poor adherence to the Mediterranean diet had more vascular and cardiac damage.

“Erectile dysfunction is not a symptom of ageing, it is a bad sign from the body that something is wrong with the vasculature,” said Athanasios Angelis, Hippokration Hospital, Athens, Greece. “In 80% of cases erectile dysfunction is caused by vascular problems and is a warning that patients are at increased risk of a heart attack or stroke.’

“The Mediterranean diet is associated with lower cardiovascular events and could be a way to help patients with erectile dysfunction lower their risk,” he added. “We wanted to investigate whether patients with erectile dysfunction who follow this diet have less vascular and cardiac damage.”

The study included 75 men with erectile dysfunction, aged 56 years on average, who attended the Department of Cardiology at Hippokration Hospital. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was assessed with the Med-Diet Score1, which ranks patients as high (30-55), intermediate (21-29) or low (0-20) according to consumption of cereals, fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy products, wine, and olive oil.

Vascular function was assessed by measuring 2 aspects of atherosclerosis, namely atheromatosis and arteriosclerosis. Atheromatosis was measured by the intima-media thickness (IMT) of the common carotid artery and arteriosclerosis was evaluated with carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV). Heart involvement was based on diastolic function and left ventricular mass.

The researchers found that a lower Med-Diet Score correlated with significantly worse vascular and heart function. These patients had greater IMT and aortic stiffness as well as higher left ventricular mass and more profound diastolic dysfunction.

“Patients with erectile dysfunction who had unhealthy diets had more vascular and cardiac damage than those who followed the Mediterranean diet,” said Dr. Angelis. “Previous studies have shown that patients with erectile dysfunction have vascular damage but we found that the heart is also damaged. This may help to further explain why these patients are more prone to cardiovascular events. The formation of atheroma, the stiffening of the arteries, and the poor functioning of the heart can eventually lead to a cardiac event.”

“Our findings suggest that adopting the Mediterranean diet can improve the cardiovascular risk profile of patients with erectile dysfunction and may reduce their chances of having a heart attack or stroke,” he added. “This needs to be tested in a larger study.”

SOURCE: European Society of Cardiology
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