If you're starting to notice symptoms of erectile dysfunction (ED), you may want to stop looking down south and instead consider the health of your heart.

"There is a strong body of evidence demonstrating that ED may be the earliest predictor of future cardiovascular disease (CVD)," said Dr. Faysal Yafi, associate professor and director of the Men's Health program at the University of California, Irvine.

Simply speaking, ED and CVD (the umbrella term given to several conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels) share a number of prior risk factors, including a documented history of high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes. Since an erection is, physically speaking, a blood-based hydraulic event, if you're not taking care of your heart and artery health, your body will