ACC.14: Erectile benefit offers another reason follow statin regimen

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Statin therapy may improve erectile dysfunction, according to a meta-analysis that will be presented at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) scientific session in Washington. D.C., a finding the lead researcher proposed may prompt more men to adhere to treatment.

John B. Kostis, MD, director of the Cardiovascular Institute at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J. and Jean M. Dobrzynski, BA, performed a meta-analysis of 11 randomized clinical trials that assessed erectile dysfunction and statin therapy. The analysis used the International Inventory of Erectile Function (IIEF), a validated instrument for measuring erectile function.

The average age of the 647 men was 58 years old and their treatment duration was between one and a half and six months. Overall, their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol dropped from 138 mg/dL to 91 mg/dL while the control group had no change. Most studies showed a beneficial effect of statins as measured on the IIEF, with an overall increase in erectile function of 3.4 points.

“Statins are associated with better erectile function as measured by this subjective measure of IIEF,” Kostis said in a press conference held before ACC.14. “This may affect an improvement in adherence of patient to statin therapy. We know that in primary prevention a large proportion of patients stop taking statins or take a lower amount than what was prescribed.”   

A large placebo-controlled clinical trial would help clarify the association between statins and erectile function, Kostis said, adding that the studies in the meta-analysis were small.

Jeffrey T. Kuvin, MD, associate chief medical officer in the cardiology division at Tufts Medical Center Boston and ACC vice chair, said the meta-analysis gives weight to the argument that statin treatment improves erectile function.

“Over the years it has become apparent that erectile dysfunction is an indication of decreased vascular health in men and is considered by many to be a considerable cardiovascular risk factor,” Kuvin said. “Whether erectile dysfunction improves due to a reduction in LDL cholesterol or perhaps other pleiotropic effects of statins remains unclear.” 

The research was among results the ACC made available before the studies’ scheduled presentation. ACC.14 will continue through March 31.