Sexual dysfunction may be an indicator of cardiovascular disease in men with type 1 diabetes, according to the results of a new study.
Sara Turek, MPH, and colleagues from the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston examined the prevalence of sexual dysfunction among 301 men from the ongoing 50-Year Medalist Study, which includes men who have lived with type 1 diabetes for more than 50 years.
Previous research showed that while rates of diabetic nephropathy, retinopathy and other common complications of type 1 diabetes are much lower among the Medalist population, the rate of cardiovascular disease in this group is similar to that reported in older patients with type 2 diabetes.
For the latest study, the researchers compared health data between the Medalists who reported sexual or erectile dysfunction (69.8 per cent, or 210 of the 301 men) and those without sexual problems.
They found that both groups had slightly higher readings for average blood glucose (HbA1c), body mass index (BMI), total cholesterol and high density lipoprotein (HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol).
In addition, they noted that a history of smoking was associated with sexual dysfunction, as was the inflammatory marker interleukin 6 (IL-6), which is commonly associated with risk of cardiovascular disease .
Speaking at the 72nd Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Associatio, Turek said the findings suggest that sexual dysfunction follows the pattern of macrovascular complications seen in the Medalist group.
“The clinical message is that sexual dysfunction might be a more overt sign of cardiovascular issues of future cardiovascular issues than other clinical markers of cardiovascular disease symptoms such as hypertensio, high cholesterol, and atherosclerosis,” she added.

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