Erectile dysfunction in general medicine

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Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects millions of men worldwide with implications that go far beyond sexual activity. ED is now recognised as an early marker of cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus (DM) and depression. The risk factors that are associated with ED (sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, hypercholesterolaemia and the metabolic syndrome) are very similar to those for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Arguably, the awareness of ED as a symptomatic entity in the post-Viagra™ age is on the rise. Nevertheless, ED is commonly missed when evaluating patients in the hospital setting, either because of lack of consideration or awareness, or through simple embarrassment (of both clinician and patient). This article provides an overview of the aetiology, assessment and importance of ED and hopes to promote its consideration in day-to-day clinical practice.

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