Southern African-American Women's Perceptions of Coronary Artery Disease after a Myocardial Infarction: A Phenomenological Inquiry
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Session presented on Friday, July 24, 2015: Purpose: The American Heart Association (AHA) reported that cardiovascular diseases kill nearly 50,000 African-American (AA) women annually. Only 52% of AA women are aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and only 36% of AA women know that heart disease is their greatest health risk. The pupose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experience of African American women, 50 years and older, who had experienced a myocardial infarction (MI) within the past five years.This study was consistent with the goal to decrease health disparities of AA women post MI and the Healthy People 2020 goal to improve cardiovascular health through prevention, detection, and treatment of risk. Methods: The phenomenological method of research was used utilized to conduct the study. The primary data collection source were semi-structured interviews conducted using open-ended questions. The primary research questions addressed the women's knowledge of risk factors, and their perceptions of management, and lifestyle changes relevant to coronary artery disease post-MI. Participants were seven AA recruited from local cardiology offices with histories of myocardial infarction. The phenomenological data analysis involved the processes of coding, categorizing, and developing themes. Results: The findings revealed six major themes: life before myocardial infarction, contributing risk factors, early warning signs, life after myocardial infarction, cardiac rehabilitation, and family support. Conclusions: The majority of women reported unrecognized risk factors prior to MI but are now able to recognize and heed early warning signs, and made lifestyle changes post MI to prevent a recurrence. However, none of the women attended cardiac rehabilitation, and only one having been referred for rehabilitation. These findings provided a beginning foundation for the development of interventions that are predictably effective in prevention of MIs in AA women.