Nearly 50 percent of heart disease patients have poor knowledge of heart attack symptoms, according to a new study.
The new study from University of California, San Francisco has revealed that nearly half of the cardiac patients not have adequate knowledge of symptoms of heart attack and do not believe that they may be at an elevated cardiovascular risk.
If patients do not know the symptoms of acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) and other acute coronary syndrome including nausea and pain in the jaw, chest or left arm, they will not seek treatment for them
The study led by Kathleen Dracup, D.N.Sc., of the University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing surveyed 3,522 patients with an average age of 67 years 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. They were also asked whether they were more or less likely than other individuals their age to have a heart attack in the next five years.
The findings were based on an average cardiac knowledge score of 71 percent. The researchers found that 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 a cardiologist as opposed to a family practitioner or internist tended to score higher.
"In this group of patients, who were all at high risk for a future acute myocardial infarction, 43 percent inappropriately assessed their risk as less than or the same as other people their age," wrote the authors.
"More men than women perceived themselves as being at low risk (47 percent vs. 36 percent, respectively).
"Patients require continued reinforcement about the nature of cardiac symptoms, the benefits of early treatment and their risk status.
"Our findings suggest that men, elderly individuals, those with low levels of education and those who have not attended a cardiac rehabilitation program are more likely to require special efforts during medical office visits to review symptoms of acute myocardial infarction and to learn the appropriate actions to take in the face of new symptoms of acute coronary syndromes," they added.
The report appears in the May 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.