Dr. Timothy Boone, chairman of the department of urology at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, said hardening of the arteries is caused by a buildup of plaque on the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrition to the heart. This plaque can restrict blood flow and poor blood flow is the number one cause of erectile dysfunction.
"As Valentine's Day draws near, many men will be worried about their sexual potency, but they should really be concerned about getting their disease process under control," Boone said in a statement. "The blood vessels that carry blood flow to cause an erection are very small, so even the smallest amount of obstructing plaque will present itself as a loss of sexual potency."
Boone said in the past, 90 percent of erectile dysfunction cases were thought to be psychological and 10 percent physical, but nearly 80 percent of men around the world with diabetes develop erectile dysfunction, compared with nearly 25 percent of those who do not have the disease.
Boone urged men to refrain from purchasing male enhancement products from TV infomercials and the like because most are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and are very expensive. Instead, men should consult with a urologist.
"If you don't take care of the causes of the problem, your ability to maintain an erection is going to be the least of your concerns," Boone added.