Erectile dysfunction is a common problem in older men.
In the September issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, the folks at the Mayo Clinic published information that may help to prevent or reverse this problem. Lifestyle changes have been shown to help with ED.
These changes include:
Lose 10 percent of body weight.
Eat five servings a day of vegetables and fruit. The film "Forks Over Knives," which has recently been shown locally, describes a dietary program that can help to prevent and/or reverse ED.
Exercise -- this was found to be especially helpful. The ideal is to exercise 20 to 30 minutes five times weekly which helps significantly. But if you can only do 10 minutes of very active exercise three times a week this will be of benefit.
ED has been found to be an early mark of coronary artery disease.
A 60 -year-old man with ED has only a slightly increased risk of heart disease but in a 40-year-old the risk is 50 times greater. The arteriosclerosis that affects the heart arteries can affect any of the arteries in the body, including those of the sexual organs.
A co-author of the study, Dr. Stephen Kopecky, noted that heart disease is so common that many men won't get that concerned about that possibility.
They know someone who had a heart attack, got a stent and was able to be back on the golf course in short order.
Because of that knowledge men won't be as likely to worry about a heart attack, but if you tell them they may not be able to perform sexually or could get Alzheimer's disease that will catch their attention.
An editorial in the same journal by two doctors from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry pointed out that ED is one of the main causes of poor quality of life in the U.S., affecting millions of men.
It should be clear that changes in lifestyle can improve a person's health in many different ways, and ED is one of them.
Dr. Don Casebolt of College Place is a retired physician who is passionate about preventive medicine. He spent four years as a medical officer in the U.S. Navy, the last 21/2 years as a flight surgeon. He also worked on the Navajo Reservation for 22 years.