A staggering 75 million US adults — that’s how many Americans suffer from high blood pressure. That means you have one in three chances of having hypertension.
But that’s not all. If you’re of the male species, having high blood pressure puts you at risk of erectile dysfunction. Today, about 30 million Americans suffer from ED.
The question now is, how is high blood pressure and ED related? How can high blood pressure cause ED in the first place? And is there anything you can do to reduce the risks and symptoms of both conditions?
We’ll answer all these questions in this post, so be sure to keep reading!
A Look at Prevalence Rates of Erectile Dysfunction in Men with High Blood Pressure
A 2000 to 2001 study looked at the prevalence rate of ED in hypertensive men in the US aged 20 and older. The researchers found that 44.1% of males with treated hypertension suffered from ED. They also found ED to affect 19% of the participants with untreated high blood pressure.
A US survey of 104 male patients also revealed high prevalence rates of ED in hypertensive men. As many as 68.3% of the patients suffered from some form of erectile dysfunction. 45.2% even admitted to having severe ED symptoms.
Another study found that of the 3,906 patients with hypertension, 61% reported having ED. When the researchers tested them, 67% actually had erectile dysfunction.
All these point out how men with hypertension can have two in three chances of getting ED too.
Erections 101: How the Penis Gets One
An erection starts with a stimulus, which can be anything that arouses you. This event triggers your nerves to communicate with the blood vessels in your penis. The chemical messages from your nerves will make the penile arteries relax and open up.
The arteries need to open up to allow an increased flow of blood into the penis. At the same time, the chemical messengers tell the veins in the penis to close up. Once enough blood enters the penis, an increase in pressure traps it within.
As you can see, a penile erection is only possible with the right amount of blood flow and pressure. When any of these two aren’t met, the penis either softens up or doesn’t even get hard in the first place.
High Blood Pressure and ED: The Blood Vessel Connection
Problems with the brain, hormones, muscles, nerves, and emotions can cause erectile dysfunction. On a physical level though, it can result from high blood pressure, which can damage the blood vessels.
Having high blood pressure means that the blood flow always carries extra force. This then places extra strain on the inside walls of the arteries, which can damage the cells there. Over time, this can damage the blood vessels’ linings, creating small pockets or tears.
This is where bits of fat, known as “plaque”, get trapped. Over time, the plaque builds up and causes blockage in the arteries. These clogs make it harder for the blood to flow properly throughout the body.
Moreover, these fat deposits can harden the arterial walls. The harder they get, the harder it is for the blood to move and pass through. This narrowing and stiffening of the blood vessels is what we call “atherosclerosis”.
Clogs in the blood vessels — even small ones — limit the flow of oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. That includes restricted blood flow to the penis, which relies on blood flow to become erect. Without enough blood, the penis can’t expand and hold an erection.
Managing Blood Pressure to Reduce ED Symptoms
If you have hypertension, you need to control your blood pressure. Maintaining normal blood pressure can help you reduce your risks of ED or at least, ease its symptoms.
Here are a few tips to get your blood pressure back to normal levels.
Weight Loss and Exercise
Weight loss through increased physical activity is crucial to successful blood pressure control. Reducing your salt intake is also key to lowering blood pressure. In fact, one study found 75.7% of men who did all these achieved their target blood pressure.
One drink of alcohol or red wine can help your blood vessels relax and boost blood flow. However, these benefits disappear once you’ve downed your second glass. In fact, a second drink can make it more difficult for the blood vessels to expand.
Meaning, drinking more than a glass of alcohol can reduce your ability to get an erection. Moreover, a study found that 72% of men with alcohol dependence had sexual dysfunction. That includes ED, premature ejaculation, and low libido levels.
So, limit your drinking to keep getting those erections. Most importantly, less booze means less stress on blood vessels.
Holistic Treatments for both Hypertension and ED
Some hypertension medications, like water pills and beta-blockers, can also cause ED. Water pills are diuretics, so they can limit the force of the blood that flows to your penis.
Whereas some beta-blockers may block the receptors involved in epinephrine production. Epinephrine is a chemical that increases the force of blood flow. This “weakening” of the blood flow may then make it hard for you to get an erection.
If you’re on any of these medications, talk to your doctor about alternatives. One such holistic treatment is CBD oil for ED and hypertension. CBD oil has proven anti-inflammatory properties, which may ease blood vessel inflammation.
Keep Your Blood Pressure Normal for a Happier, Healthier Sex Life
As you can see, there’s no doubting the link between high blood pressure and ED. These two are strongly connected, and you need to address both to reduce your risks of getting the other. Especially since erectile dysfunction is also one of the earliest signs of hypertension.
Don’t let high blood pressure wreak havoc to your sex life or overall well-being! Pay your doctor a visit now to prevent more high blood pressure- and ED-related conditions.
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