Young men with impotence are twice as likely to develop heart disease as those with no history of erectile dysfunction, new research shows.
A study at Mayo Clinic in the US found that men with erectile dysfunction face an 80 per cent elevated risk of heart disease.
However, if erectile dysfunction occurs between the ages of 40 and 49, the risk of heart disease increases twofold.
"The highest risk for coronary heart disease was in younger men," said Dr Jennifer St Sauver.
"In older men, erectile dysfunction may be of less prognostic importance for development of future heart disease."
The study involved men and is published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Although the reasons for the link are not yet clear, some scientists believe that the build-up of plaque that blocks the arteries around the heart may cause erectile dysfunction first by blocking the smaller penile arteries.
Around one in ten men are affected by erectile dysfunction, which can be caused by a combination of factors.