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Cardiovasc Res. 1999 Aug 15;43(3):658-65.

Nitric oxide and penile erection: is erectile dysfunction another manifestation of vascular disease?

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  • 1Department of Urology, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, UK.


There is convincing evidence that the prevalence of erectile dysfunction is increased among men with ischaemic heart disease. This association may be attributed to the fact that both erectile dysfunction and ischaemic heart disease share similar risk factors (e.g. hypertension, dyslipidaemia, diabetes and smoking). Nitric oxide (NO) activity is adversely affected, in penile and vascular tissue, by these risk factors. It is therefore not surprising that a defect in NO activity is thought to play a role in the pathogenesis of both erectile dysfunction and ischaemic heart disease. We consider this evidence and propose that defective NO activity provides a unifying explanation for the association between these two conditions. Further research in this area may improve our understanding of the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases as a whole.

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