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Lack of knowledge of acute myocardial infarction symptoms and coronary artery disease risk factors is associated with delayed treatments and significant comorbidities. Calling an emergency medical service (i.e., in the USA calling 9-1-1) is the most appropriate first decision to survive this critical situation. This study explored public knowledge and determined socio-demographic variables related to knowledge of coronary artery disease risk factors, acute myocardial infarction symptoms, and first decision-making in acute myocardial infarction situation. This cross-sectional study involved collecting data from 345 lay people from the Midwestern United States. The research team used t-tests to compare cardiovascular disease knowledge in relation to socio-demographic variables. Associations between first decision-making and demographic characteristics were tested using Chi-squared testing.
We found that participants recognized classic acute myocardial infarction symptoms more readily than atypical symptoms. Participants who were younger, college educated, had higher household income and health insurance had greater knowledge of symptoms. Older adults were less informed about acute myocardial infarction symptoms. Approximately half of the participants misidentified specific typical coronary artery disease risk factors, especially diabetes mellitus. Over 90% of respondents indicated “Calling 9-1-1” for their first decision in an acute myocardial infarction situation. Older adults and people with lower income and education displayed the greatest lack of knowledge. Nurses should provide health education programs about atypical cardiovascular symptomology and promote calling emergency medical services when experiencing acute myocardial infarction to address the concerning lack of knowledge and awareness in this population.
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