• Customer Service Team available now: Mon-Fri 8:00-17:00
  • Private & confidential service
  • Genuine medication
  • All-inclusive service - No hidden fees
  • Next day delivery

Heart disease as a cause of ED

Poor heart health is a prevalent problem in men’s health, and impacts your overall health in numerous ways. It causes long-term health problems and can dramatically increase your risk of fatal cardiovascular events. In fact, almost 1 in every 4 deaths Trusted source UK Health Security Agency Blog Government Source Public Health and Safety Go to source in the UK are caused by cardiovascular disease.

These effects are well-known, but few know that heart disease also affects your sex life. It is one of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction (ED), and is often an early warning sign of an underlying heart problem. Keep reading to find out more.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana Written by our editorial team Last reviewed 05-10-2023

What is heart disease?

Cardiovascular disease is a term for a group of conditions that affect the heart and circulatory system. One of the most common of these diseases is coronary heart disease (sometimes known as ischaemic heart disease or coronary artery disease) which affects around 2.3 million people in the UK.

"2.3 million people in the UK are living with coronary heart disease."

Coronary heart disease is caused by arteries that supply the heart narrowing over time. With no intervention, the blood vessels continue to narrow so much that it significantly reduces blood flow. This can cause a blockage in the arteries, potentially resulting in a stroke, heart failure or a heart attack (myocardial infarction).

The condition is often symptomless, which can lead to many complications that are found too late. However, some people may experience breathlessness and chest pain (angina).

What causes heart disease?

Heart disease is caused by a buildup of fatty substances (plaque) in the blood vessels. This thickens or hardens the inner lining of the arteries over time, a phenomenon known as atherosclerosis.

Heart disease is generally caused by your lifestyle, including poor diet, obesity, little exercise, and certain unhealthy habits. It is also linked to several chronic conditions that can increase your risk of heart disease.

3D-rendered image of atherosclerosis in a blood vessel.

High cholesterol

Cholesterol is a substance that is produced in your liver and can be found in several foods. We all need a certain amount of cholesterol, but eating too many fatty foods can cause cholesterol to build up in the blood vessels. This hardens and forms plaque, limiting blood flow.

High blood pressure

Blood pressure is a measurement of how hard your heart has to work to circulate blood around your body. Having high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, means your heart muscle has to work harder to pump blood around your body. Untreated high blood pressure damages the artery walls over time, which creates a site for plaque to build up more easily.


Diabetes is a chronic condition which causes high blood sugar levels. If not well controlled, high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels. They reduce the elasticity of the blood vessels, which can cause them to narrow over time.


Smoking is linked to heart disease in several ways. It reduces the elasticity of the blood vessels, which leads to atherosclerosis and plaque build-up. The chemicals in cigarettes can also thicken your blood, meaning blood clots are more likely to form and result in a serious cardiac event.


Alcohol is high in sugar and calories, which can be a risk factor for several of the conditions on this list. In addition, drinking excessively regularly can also cause high blood pressure, which is closely linked to heart disease. The vice also weakens the heart muscle, meaning less blood can circulate around the body, which affects your heart rate.


Chronic stress is a risk factor for heart disease and particularly elevates your risk of cardiovascular events. One 2017 Trusted source The Lancet Peer-reviewed Journals Global Health Go to source study monitored almost 300 people aged around 50 years old. They found that increased brain activity in response to stress increased arterial inflammation and bone marrow activity (another phenomenon experts Trusted source National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Government Source Go to source have linked to heart disease). This significantly increased the risk of a cardiovascular event. In fact, 22 of the participants experienced a cardiovascular disease event after the study took place.

How can I improve my symptoms?

Managing your heart disease is the first step to improving your ED symptoms.

The best way to improve your heart health is through lifestyle changes. Here are a few simple things you can do to help with symptoms:

  • eat a balanced diet (low fats, lean proteins, more vegetables, etc.)
  • introduce light physical activity into your routine (e.g. walking)
  • lose weight - obesity is both a risk factor for heart disease and ED such as from a poor diet and low testosterone
  • drink less alcohol
  • quit smoking
Fruit-filled heart surrounded by gym equipment and other fruits.

If you have a condition such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you may also require prescription medications such as beta-blockers or statins to help with your condition.

There are also plenty of treatment options for ED, such as Viagra (Sildenafil). You take these medicines shortly before sexual activity and they help increase blood flow to the penis.

They should be safe to take if you have a heart condition. In fact, Sildenafil is sometimes used to treat heart problems. However, always check with your healthcare provider or cardiologist before taking any other medications.

Further reading

Obesity as a cause of ED

Erectile Dysfunction Causes Obesity as a cause of ED

Reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
Stress, anxiety and how it can cause ED

Erectile Dysfunction Causes Stress, anxiety and how it can cause ED

Reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
How diabetes can cause erectile dysfunction

Erectile Dysfunction Causes Diabetes as a cause of ED

Reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
How smoking can ruin your sex life

Erectile Dysfunction Causes How smoking can ruin your sex life

Reviewed by Dr. Caroline Fontana
Fill out a short
medical form
Doctor issues
Medication sent
from pharmacy