Risk factors for cardiovascular disease and erectile dysfunction (ED) are similar, as might be expected given their shared etiologic and pathophysiologic origins. It is now generally accepted that most cases of ED result from a vascular disturbance of the endothelium. Recent epidemiological studies have documented a strong association between ED and comorbid conditions such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia. Phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors are recommended as first-line therapy for erection problems of all etiologies and severities. The efficacy and safety of PDE5 inhibitors in the general ED population is well documented and has been extensively reviewed. To examine the association between ED and vascular disorders in the context of current knowledge regarding PDE5 inhibitors, an electronic search was performed of articles published from January 2002 through April 2008 using the PubMed, EMBASE, and MEDLINE databases. Although preference was given to randomized, blinded, controlled clinical trials, data from retrospective studies were also reviewed when appropriate. This analysis revealed that the clinical evidence linking ED to future cardiovascular events is compelling, presenting physicians with a unique interventional opportunity to address underlying cardiovascular health concerns in men presenting with ED. In most studies, PDE5 inhibitors were shown to effectively and safely improve erectile function regardless of cause, severity, or presence of comorbid conditions, including hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia
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