High blood pressure is a chronic medical condition in which the systemic arterial blood pressure is elevated. In more than 90% of all cases, hypertension occurs with no obvious medical cause and in most cases it doesn’t even have any signs and symptoms until it becomes very much pronounced. Accelerated hypertension is usually characterized by headaches, confusion, drowsiness, vision disorder, but for many male patients it also causes problems with sexual performance. Apparently, high blood pressure is tightly linked with erectile dysfunction. Moreover, certain medications used to manage blood pressure are also associated with male impotence.
Erectile dysfunction and high blood pressure
High blood pressure can cause severe changes in the lining of blood vessels. Over time, high blood pressure damages these structures and gradually causes hardening and narrowing of arteries. This results in a limited blood flow, and unobstructed blood flow is essential for erection to occur. Penile erection is actually enlargement of the penis from blood flow in tubular vesicles. These spongy tissues found inside the penis are able to hold the blood and keep it from flowing back to the body. Therefore, a penis becomes enlarged and hard during the erection, due to the increased volume of the venous blood present in the penile tissues. If a blood flow is decreased, due to the changes caused by high blood pressure, it will be difficult for men to achieve and maintain erections.
High blood pressure medication and erectile dysfunction
Medications used to manage high blood pressure are known to cause male impotence. Some of the most frequently used medications include diuretics, also known as water pills. Diuretics are used to provide forced dieresis that elevates the rate of urination and increase the excretion of water from body.
Diuretics can increase exertion of zinc and other minerals from body, of which some are necessary for production of sex hormone, such as testosterone. Zinc is also known to promote higher levels of libido, and any kind of deprivation can affect sexual arousal in men. Diuretics can also decrease overall blood volume and therefore blood flow to the penis, making it more difficult for men to achieve and hold the erection.
Other medicines used in treatment of high blood pressure are beta-blockers, which block the action of certain chemicals in the brain responsible for "fight or flight" response. These medications can also affect the way central nervous system causes an erection, and obstruct the normal mechanism of widening of the arteries in penis, limiting the patient’s chances to achieve erection.