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Heart attack patients 'ignorant' of cardiovascular risk

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Nearly half of patients with a history of cardiovascular disease have poor knowledge about their symptoms and do not perceive themselves to be at risk, say US nurse researchers.

Researchers led Kathleen Dracup, from the University of California’s school of nursing, surveyed 3,522 patients 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.

The average cardiac knowledge score was 71%, while 44% were judged to have low knowledge levels. Additionally, 43% inappropriately assessed their risk as less than or the same as other people their age, the results showed.

‘Patients require continued reinforcement about the nature of cardiac symptoms, the benefits of early treatment and their risk status,’ the authors said.

‘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,’ they add.

Archives of Internal Medicine (2008) 168: 1049-1054

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