While erectile dysfunction (ED) can cause frustration and embarrassment, it may also predict a man's risk of developing heart disease.

A new Mayo Clinic Study followed 1,402 men ages 40 and older who lived in Olmsted County, Minnesota, for 10 years starting in 1996. None of the men had heart disease at the beginning of the study. At the end of the study, results suggest that men with ED are 80 percent more likely to develop heart disease compared with men who do not have it. The study also found that men with ED between the ages of 40 and 49 are twice as likely to get heart disease.

It is a theory that both ED and coronary artery disease are caused by a buildup of plaque that may first block penile arteries and then arteries around the heart. Regardless of the cause, researchers suggest that young men and their doctors should consider ED as an indicator for future risk of heart disease.