Many heart patients ignorant about symptoms

May 27th, 2008 - 12:29 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, May 27 (IANS) Almost half of heart patients are neither well informed about their condition nor view themselves as having enhanced cardiovascular risk, according to a study. As patients do not know the symptoms of heart attacks and other acute coronary syndromes - nausea and pain in the jaw, chest or left arm - they do not seek timely treatment, said the study that found patients looking for other explanations when experiencing these symptoms.

Ill-informed individuals have a five to seven times greater risk of an attack or dying, the study by University of California researchers stated.

Though survival rates improve if treatment begins within one hour of a heart attack, the study found most patients were admitted to hospital up to three hours after the symptoms began.

“Barriers to seeking appropriate care quickly are both cognitive and emotional,” the authors of the study write in the latest issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researcher Kathleen Dracup and colleagues surveyed 3,522 patients (average age 67) who had a history of heart attack or an invasive procedure for treating narrowed arteries.

They were asked to identify possible symptoms of heart attack and responded to true-false questions about heart disease. Participants 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 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 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,” the study found.

“More men than women perceived themselves as being at low risk (47 percent versus 36 percent).”

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