Erectile dysfunction may predict future cardiovascular events and indicate the severity of coronary artery disease in middle-aged men. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether erectile dysfunction (expression of generalized macro- and micro-vascular pathology) could predict reduced effort tolerance in patients after an acute myocardial infarction.Patients and methods
One hundred and thirty-nine male patients (60 ± 12 years old), admitted to intensive cardiac rehabilitation 13 days after a complicated acute myocardial infarction, were evaluated for history of erectile dysfunction using the International Index of Erectile Function questionnaire. Their physical performance was assessed by means of two six-minute walk tests (performed two weeks apart) and by a symptom limited cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET).Results
Patients with erectile dysfunction (57% of cases) demonstrated poorer physical performance, significantly correlated to the degree of erectile dysfunction. After cardiac rehabilitation, they walked shorter distances at the final six-minute walk test (490 ± 119 vs. 564 ± 94 m; p < 0.001); at CPET they sustained lower workload (79 ± 28 vs. 109 ± 34 W; p < 0.001) and reached lower oxygen uptake at peak effort (18 ± 5 vs. 21 ± 5 ml/kg per min; p = 0.003) and at anaerobic threshold (13 ± 3 vs.16 ± 4 ml/kg per min; p = 0.001). The positive predictive value of presence of erectile dysfunction was 0.71 for low peak oxygen uptake (<20 ml/kg per min) and 0.69 for reduced effort capacity (W-max <100 W).Conclusions
As indicators of generalized underlying vascular pathology, presence and degree of erectile dysfunction may predict the severity of deterioration of effort tolerance in post-acute myocardial infarction patients. In the attempt to reduce the possibly associated long-term risk, an optimization of type, intensity and duration of cardiac rehabilitation should be considered.