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Many patients with heart disease have poor knowledge of heart attack symptoms
Date:5/26/2008

Nearly half of patients with a history of heart disease have poor knowledge about the symptoms of a heart attack and do not perceive themselves to have an elevated cardiovascular risk, according to a report in the May 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Individuals with heart disease have five to seven times the risk of having a heart attack or dying as the general population, according to background information in the article. Survival rates improve following heart attack if treatment begins within one hour. However, most patients are admitted to the hospital 2.5 to three hours after symptoms begin. Barriers to seeking appropriate care quickly are both cognitive and emotional, the authors write. If patients do not know the symptoms of acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) and other acute coronary syndromesincluding nausea and pain in the jaw, chest or left armthey will not seek treatment for them. If they do not perceive themselves to be at risk for heart attack, they will look for another explanation when they experience these symptoms.

Kathleen Dracup, D.N.Sc., of the University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing, and colleagues surveyed 3,522 patients (average age 67) who had a history of heart attack or an invasive procedure for treating narrowed arteries. The patients were asked to identify possible symptoms of heart attack and responded to true-false questions about heart disease. Participants also were asked whether they were more or less likely than other individuals their age to have a heart attack in the next five years.

The average cardiac knowledge score was 71 percent. Despite their history of heart disease, 44 percent of the patients had low knowledge levels, as documented by scores of less than 70 percent. Women, individuals who had participated in cardiac rehabilitation, those with higher education levels, younger individuals and those who received care from
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Contact: Kristen Bole
415-476-2743
JAMA and Archives Journals
Source:Eurekalert

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