If heart health is something you don’t usually pay attention to—you may want to keep reading.
A new study by Wroclaw Medical University in Poland reported that up to 40% of cases of erectile dysfunction originate from vascular disturbances—but many men might be ignorant of this fact.
Researchers targeted 500 men over age 60 with ischemic heart disease, a condition in which the arteries harden and restrict blood flow to the heart. For those with ED, this also means poor blood circulation to the penis.
Each of the men in the study had also experienced at least one heart attack and most were overweight, while 15 percent were obese. Most participants also smoked, had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and/or diabetes.
But what’s really shocking is that nearly 80 percent of patients reported experiencing ED, and 23 percent claimed it was severe or moderate to severe.
And very few actually realized their ED could be linked to their poor lifestyle habits that also contribute to their heart problems. According to the International Journal of Impotence Research, patients were asked which modifiable steps to take in order to reduce their ricks of ED—quitting smoking, losing weight, controlling diabetes, maintaining a healthy cholesterol level, exercising, and lowering blood pressure—and only 6 percent could name each factor.
Many men instead blamed low testosterone and cycling or benign prostate tumors for causing ED.
“Patients simply don’t understand that a healthy lifestyle with leisure time physical activity and some diet modifications such as eating fish can influence penile function,” study co-author Zygmunt Domagala told Reuters.
Most importantly, researchers came to find that participants were least aware that an inactive lifestyle is the risk factor that most frequently affects their penis health. In other words: Working out helps your penis—and your heart. Just another reason to make 2016 your year to get fitter than ever.