INTRODUCTION: Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects more than half of men between the ages of 40 and 70 years and is associated with a significant decline in quality of life. ED in an otherwise healthy man should be considered a sentinel event for endothelial dysfunction and cardiovascular disease. Such a person should be carefully evaluated for undiagnosed risk factors including hypertension, diabetes, lipid disorders, and obesity.
OBJECTIVE: To understand that erectile dysfunction is prevalent and may be the first sign of undiagnosed cardiovascular risk factors.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Literature review.
RESULTS: Current literature suggests that physicians should screen all men for ED, and if present, rule out concomitant cardiovascular risk factors.
CONCLUSION: ED is prevalent and may be the first sign of undiagnosed cardiovascular risk factors. With the advent of safe and effective phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitors (PDE-5i), most patients reporting dissatisfaction with erectile function can start treatment right away. Preventative care algorithms should include screening men 40 years of age or older for ED.