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Low level of knowledge of heart attack symptoms and inappropriate anticipated treatment-seeking behaviour among older Chinese: a cross-sectional survey

Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.72(7):645-652. 2018
Chau P.H., Moe G., Lee S.Y., Woo J., Leung Y.M.A., Chow C.M., Kong C.H.M., Lo W.T., Yuen M.H. and Zerwic J.


BACKGROUND: Prehospital delay of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) is common globally, and Hong Kong-home of a rapidly ageing Chinese population-is not an exception. Seeking emergency medical care promptly is important for patients. Treatment-seeking behaviours have been shown to be associated with knowledge of AMI symptoms and specific cultural beliefs. This study aimed to assess the level of knowledge of AMI symptoms and expected treatment-seeking behaviour among older Chinese in Hong Kong.

METHODS: A cross-sectional population-based survey was conducted at the Elderly Health Centres in Hong Kong from March to September 2016. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with a structured questionnaire based on previous studies and local adaptations.

RESULTS: Among 1804 people aged 65 years and above who completed the questionnaire, chest pain (80.2%), palpitations (75.8%) and fainting (71.9%) were the major symptoms recognised as AMI related. Meanwhile, stomach ache (46.9%), coughing (45.4%) and neck pain (40.8%) were recognised as not AMI related. The mean expected discomfort intensity during AMI onset was 7.7 out of 10 (SD=2.1). Regarding the expected treatment-seeking behaviour, seeking non-emergent medical care was the most popular action when AMI symptoms emerged during the day, without chest pain or with lower discomfort intensity, whereas calling an ambulance was the most common option when AMI symptoms emerged at night or with high discomfort intensity.

CONCLUSIONS: To minimise delays in seeking treatment, future health education should focus on increasing the public knowledge of AMI symptoms and the need to call an ambulance during an emergency.

KEYWORDS: elderly; health behaviour; ischaemic heart disease.

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