acute myocardial infarction, aging, AMI symptoms, gender, knowledge



  1. Tullmann, Dorothy France PhD, RN, CCRN
  2. Dracup, Kathleen DNSc, RN, FAAN


PURPOSE: Coronary heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women. While adults 65 years of age and older comprise the largest percentage of those who experience an acute myocardial infarction (AMI), investigators to date have failed to examine the knowledge of this population about AMI symptoms. The purpose of this study was to document knowledge about cardiovascular disease and AMI symptoms in older individuals with coronary heart disease to identify the characteristics associated with increased knowledge of cardiovascular disease.


METHODS: A descriptive design was used with a convenience sample of (N = 115) older adults at risk for AMI. Data were collected during face-to-face interviews in the participants' homes and analyzed using frequencies, percentages, [chi]2, and multiple regression analysis.


RESULTS: Men and women were not significantly different in their knowledge of AMI symptoms except for jaw pain. More than 95% of the both men and women knew typical symptoms of AMI, such as chest pain, pressure, shortness of breath, arm or shoulder pain, and sweating. Less than 75% of both men and women knew that symptoms such as neck pain, nausea or vomiting, back pain, heartburn, and jaw pain could be symptoms of AMI. Thirty-one percent did not know about reperfusion therapies in the treatment of AMI. Having a cardiologist involved in care was weakly predictive of less knowledge.


CONCLUSIONS: Education and counseling of older patients at high risk for heart disease is complex, but should emphasize atypical symptoms and treatment options.