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A Qualitative Look at AMI in Younger Women

A Qualitative Look at AMI in Younger Women

Each year, more than 15,000 women younger than age 55 die from heart disease, ranking it among the leading causes of death in this age group. “Young women have twice the risk of dying during hospitalization for an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) as similarly aged men,” says Judith H. Lichtman, PhD, MPH. Research suggests that delays in recognizing AMI symptoms and seeking medical care may contribute to poorer outcomes for women, but most of these studies involve patients older than 55. Few studies have examined the perceptions and actions of women younger than 55 who experience AMI symptoms. “With a better understanding of the perspective of these women with regard to AMI symptoms and their interactions with healthcare providers, clinicians can gain valuable insights into factors that influence prompt care-seeking behaviors,” Dr. Lightman say. To address this research gap, Dr. Lichtman, and colleagues had a qualitative study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes in which 30 younger women (aged 30 to 55) who were recently hospitalized with AMI described their experiences with AMI symptoms and their decision-making process to seek medical care. The purpose was to identify factors that may contribute to delays in recognizing symptoms and engaging the healthcare system. Important Themes According to the results, five themes characterized the experiences of women. First, prodromal symptoms varied substantially in both nature and duration. Second, women inaccurately assessed their personal risk of heart disease and commonly attributed symptoms to non-cardiac causes. Third, it appeared that competing and conflicting priorities influenced decisions about seeking acute care. Fourth, the healthcare system was not consistently responsive to women, which resulted in...

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