What Causes Erectile Dysfunction in Men Over 50?


Clogged arteries cause about half of the cases of ED in older men

Next Question

Disclaimer: This information isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should never rely upon this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

What’s the Main Cause of Erectile Dysfunction in Men Over 50?

The most common cause of erectile dysfunction in men over 50 is atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. As men age, the linings of arteries become less flexible. That means they don’t expand as easily to let more blood flow through when you need it (like getting an erection).

Plaque can also build-up in the arteries, meaning less blood can flow to the penis. This reduced blood flow can cause ED as well as heart attacks or strokes. Atherosclerosis is so common in men over 50 that it’s responsible for nearly half of ED cases in older men. But what’s really alarming is that the most common causes of erectile dysfunction are also some of the same risk factors for heart disease.

Erectile Dysfunction & Heart Disease are Linked

A 2005 American Medical Association (AMA) study found that “erectile dysfunction is a significant predictor of heart disease.” The AMA tracked 4,247 men without ED over the age of 55, for five years. Every three months they met with these men and checked for signs of erectile dysfunction and heart disease.

By the end of the five-year study, 57% of men—over 2,400—had developed ED. The men who developed ED had at greater risk of a “cardiac event.” The AMA also estimates that “more than 600,000 men aged 40–69 years in the US develop erectile dysfunction every year, and older men with ED have twice the risk of cardiovascular disease than men without erectile dysfunction.”

Erectile Dysfunction is an Early Warning Sign

Over 70% of sudden cardiac deaths happen in men. That’s largely due to the fact that a lot of men ignore early warning signs and skip their recommended annual physical exam. The blood vessels in the penis are smaller than other parts of the body. So problems like high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease show up as erectile dysfunction before a heart attack or stroke.

Erectile dysfunction and heart disease share a lot of the same risk factors and symptoms. If you have symptoms of ED, get screened for cardiovascular risk factors.

Was this answer helpful?