More than 18 million men in the United States over age
20 are affected by erectile dysfunction, according to a
study by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg
School of Public Health.
The prevalence of erectile dysfunction was strongly
linked with age, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and a
lack of physical activity. The findings also indicate that
lifestyle changes, such as increased physical activity and
measures to prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes,
may prevent decreased erectile function. The study is
published in the Feb. 1 issue of The American Journal of
"Physicians should be aggressive in screening and
managing middle-aged and older patients for erectile
dysfunction, especially among patients with diabetes or
hypertension," said Elizabeth Selvin, lead author of the
study and a faculty member in the Bloomberg School's
Department of Epidemiology. "The associations of
erectile dysfunction with diabetes and cardiovascular risk
factors may serve as powerful motivators for men who need
to make changes in their diet and lifestyle."
For the study, the research team analyzed data from
2,126 men who participated in the National Health and
Nutrition Examination Survey. Men who reported being
"sometimes able" or "never able" to get and keep an
erection were categorized as having erectile dysfunction,
while men who reported being "always or almost always able"
or "usually able" were not.
The overall prevalence of erectile dysfunction among
men in the United States was 18 percent. Men aged 70 and
older were much more likely to report having erectile
dysfunction compared to only 5 percent of men between the
ages of 20 and 40. Nearly half of all men in the study with
diabetes also had erectile dysfunction. And almost 90
percent of all men with erectile dysfunction had at least
one risk factor for cardiovascular disease, including
diabetes, hypertension, poor cholesterol levels or being a
current smoker. Men with erectile dysfunction also were
less likely to have engaged in vigorous physical activity
within the month prior to participation in the study.
The study was written by Selvin, Arthur L. Burnett and
Elizabeth A. Platz. Selvin and Platz are with the
Department of Epidemiology at the Bloomberg School of
Public Health. Platz and Burnett are with the James
Buchanan Brady Urological Institute at The Johns Hopkins
The researchers were supported by grants from the
National Institutes of Health's National Heart, Lung and
Blood Institute and its National Institute of Diabetes and
Digestive and Kidney Diseases.