High Blood Pressure Can Lower Your Sexual Performance
Hypertension or high blood pressure affects 43 million Americans. Many men and women with hypertension have a decrease in their enjoyment of sexual activities. Nearly 20% of men who are discovered to have high blood pressure will also have some degree of impotence or erectile dysfunction (ED).
The drugs used to treat hypertension rarely have life-threatening side effects. But some of these medications can make men depressed, lethargic and can even produce erectile dysfunction. It is important to mention that no man should avoid treatment because of fear of sexual side effects. The risks of uncontrolled high blood pressure include increased risks of life-threatening conditions such as heart attack and stroke.
Men with mild to moderate hypertension can often make life-style changes to control their elevated blood pressures. Being overweight is a major risk factor for high blood pressure and ED. A regular routine of exercise not only helps to reduce excess weight, but also to reduce the stress that contributes to hypertension and ED. A suggested exercise program for hypertensive men is 30-45 minutes of brisk walking or other aerobic exercises, like stationary cycling, for four or five days a week.
Stress may play a major role in the development of hypertension and ED. Stress reduction techniques such as meditation and biofeedback can be extremely helpful. Also, exercise can be a stress reducer as well.
Smoking cessation and reducing salt intake are also important steps that can be taken to minimize the risks of hypertension and erectile dysfunction. Nicotine, the active ingredient in cigarettes, can be responsible for narrowing the blood vessels to the heart and other vital organs including the blood supply to the penis with subsequent decrease in sexual performance.
Most hypertensive men are sensitive to salt. When they eat less salt, their blood pressure falls. Therefore, it is recommended that hypertensive patients restrict their salt intake. Generally, you should stick to fresh, unprocessed foods, not add salt to your food after cooking (only add half the salt in a recipe) and avoid salty foods (like fast foods, ham, bacon, sausages, canned vegetables or soups and sauerkraut).
Many of the drugs used to treat hypertension also cause ED. Antihypertensive drugs that are known culprits include diuretics such as hydrochlorothiazide and beta blockers such as Inderal and Lopressor. Newer anti-hypertensive agents, including angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin-receptor blockers (ARBs) are less likely to cause erectile dysfunction. In fact, ARBs may be particularly effective in restoring erectile function in men with high blood pressure who suffer from impotence.
Bottom Line: Hypertension strikes nearly half of all men and women over the age of 50. If left untreated, an increase risk of heart attack and stroke may result. Men with high blood pressure have a new reason to get their blood pressure under control - they may be at risk for erectile dysfunction. However the antihypertensive drugs used to treat high blood pressure often cause unwanted side effects such as ED. If you have mild elevation of your blood pressure consult with your doctor about lowering your blood pressure with lifestyle changes. If the blood pressure is significantly elevated, then talk to your doctor about the drugs that can lower the blood pressure but are least likely to cause ED. Above all, get treatment for this silent killer.
Content reprinted with permission from Neil Baum, MD, neilbaum.com.
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