A Deakin University researcher is looking to lift the taboo on the sexual problems that are often an unspoken side effect for people living with cardiovascular disease.
The silent treatment on this issue is a major problem, considering that up to 87 per cent of patients can present with sexual dysfunction.
Dr Leah East, from Deakin’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, is conducting a study into facilitating communications between at-risk patients and healthcare professionals. She said there is a lack of knowledge on how to broach this sensitive issue from both sides.
“Healthcare professionals may not have the educational knowledge on how to deal with sexual health problems related to cardiovascular disease,” East said. “Sometimes [they] believe perhaps the patient should bring up the issue if they’re concerned about it. Yet, patients expect to be told about any issues they may experience in relation to their disease.”
The consequences of this communication breakdown are wide-reaching and may even pose risks to the effective treatment of a patient’s primary health concern: the actual heart problem.
“A lot of patients are somewhat suffering in silence," East said. "If a patient […is] on medication that may cause some sexual health problems, they [might] stop taking their medication. Hence, it’s very important to try to facilitate a conversation.”
East is looking for participants in her study, which aims to develop a practical, simple-to-use tool to open up these conversations. The goal is to help patients and healthcare professionals alike.
“What we're asking healthcare professionals [is] what they consider the barriers and the facilitators of these conversations to be. From individuals with cardiovascular disease, we'd like to know what kind of information they need. What do they want from health professionals to help alleviate or prevent any kind of sexual health adversity they may be experiencing?”
She encourages both healthcare professionals and people with cardiovascular disease to get in touch to help with the study. People wanting further information, or to take part in the study, can contact her via email: [email protected]Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]