Impotence may Signify Impending Heart Disease

Posted by Lakshmi Gopal on Sat, Mar 19, 2011  
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When Mrs Vashishth's husband started taking less interest in their conjugal life in a matter of a few months, Mrs Vashishth felt a growing sense of alarm. What had come over him to ignore her after 15 years of a blissfully married life? Was he looking for greener pastures? Did he not love her any more?

However, her fears were soon allayed when her husband proposed that they consult the doctor, as he confessed, he had a genuine medical problem. One visit to the cardiologist was enough for the couple to find out what was wrong with Mr Vashishth. It was a case of high cholesterol blocking the arteries in his pelvis region, known as the pudendal artery that had led to a changed behavioural state.

Did you know that 20 per cent cases of reported impotence are a result of arterial blockage with a high chance of leading to a heart attack in the next 5 years?

Well, here’s what the experts have to say about impotence, resulting from blocked arteries and its association with heart disease.

Dr MP Nigam, Cardiologist, First Reach Hospital says, “Impotence is a possible sign of heart problems in a patient’s life. Blockage in vascular arteries happens earlier than blockage in arteries of the heart. In that sense, impotence is a precursor to a heart attack. If a patient is afflicted with vascular blockage, he may suffer a heart attack in the next 3-5 yrs.”

Patients who suffer from impotence must keep this vital link in mind and consult a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor eventually finds out the cause of impotence after thorough evaluation of the patient, and checks whether non-vascular reasons have to be ruled out.

In India, impotence is still a non-priority medical condition, and much less, a symptom of a deeper affliction. It is generally perceived as a common problem of middle-aged men. It is the cause of huge emotional stress in an individual, which leads to depression and adversely affects heart patients.

Dr Nigam adds, “Arteries throughout the human body are similar and so are their diseases, which arise in the same pattern. Therefore, one can say that impotence due to blockage in the pudendal artery, located in the pelvis region, and heart ailments due to blockage may go hand-in-hand.”

There is a social stigma attached to any sex-related problem in our country and likewise, to impotence. Very few people actually talk about the problem without feeling embarrassed. Most shy away from discussing it because of social taboo or ignorance. A patient's social background determines to a large extent, whether he is vocal about his condition.

People by and large, are not aware of the problems that impotence signifies. In fact, most of them are not even aware of the cause. It is only when they consult a doctor and get examined, that they come to know of the real ailment.

What needs to be basically understood is that the condition may not be an age-related problem as it was thought of till now. It has more psychogenic and vascular reasons that most patients aren’t aware of.

“Patients suffering from impotence come from all kinds of medical backgrounds. However, obese people, smokers, diabetics and patients with established heart problems are more prone to it,” says Dr Nigam.

“Awareness of this problem must be initiated at the pre-college or college level. Students must be told that smoking is harmful, not only for the lungs and heart, but can also lead to impotence due to blockage of the pudendal artery,” he elaborates.

There are two kinds of treatments for patients suffering from impotence due to blockage of the pudendal artery. There is surgery, which is a complex procedure as it requires the opening of body parts. The second option is angioplasty -- an easy and minimally invasive procedure. But it needs to be performed only by experts or vascular interventionalists.

In angioplasty, stenting of the pudendal artery is done. The process is so simple that a patient can go home the very same day as there is no surgery and hence no cuts.

This technique has been popular for 1-2 years. It treats impotence effectively on an individual basis. However, it is not a generic treatment and can be performed only on those patients suffering from impotence due to blockage in the pudendal artery.

"The success rate of angioplasty is very high – up to 90 per cent. However, a doctor has to ascertain whether the patient is suffering from impotence while deciding his case," says Dr Nigam.

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