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Fatigue common after myocardial infarction say nurse researchers

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Half of all patients who have a myocardial infarction experience onerous fatigue four months after the event, say Swedish nurse researchers.

The researchers studied 200 people who completed questionnaires one week after experiencing a myocardial infarction (MI), and again four months later.

They found that the patients who were most fatigued were those who perceived the MI as a sign of chronic illness.

Patients who found the illness difficult to control, and those who believed that the illness had a large impact on their life, were also more likely to experience fatigue, the researchers said.

They added that making lifestyle changes, and participating in cardiac rehabilitation programmes, could help reduce the risk of fatigue.

Study author Pia Alsen, from the institute of health and care sciences at the University of Gothenburg, said: ‘The perception that the condition was a chronic one depended on the extent to which the patients reflected over what had happened. Those who were unwilling to examine causes and correlations perceived the infarction as an isolated event.

‘A better understanding of the patients’ perception of their illness can enable us to adapt the information individually for each patient, and encourage more patients to enter the follow-up programmes,’ she added.

The study results were presented at an event at Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg at the end of May.

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