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Keywords:

  • psychosocial experiences;
  • physical problems;
  • heart disease;
  • quality of life;
  • age and gender differences

Psychosocial experiences of cardiac patients in early recovery: a community-based study

Objective To report on the nature, incidence and severity of problems commonly experienced by cardiac patients in the early months of recovery, and to test the hypotheses that there exist differences in the incidences of these problems depending on age and sex. Methods 1124 emergency cardiac patients discharged from hospital with acute myocardial infarction, unstable angina, stable angina pectoris, chronic ischaemic heart disease or heart failure were surveyed 4 months after discharge. They were asked to indicate how often during the previous 2 weeks they had experienced each of a range of feelings and problems common to cardiac patients. Results A large proportion of patients reported experiencing problems in the areas of emotional reactions (70%), physical condition (79%), convalescence (67%) and relating to family and friends (63%). Severe problems were experienced especially in the physical and convalescence areas (43% and 44%, respectively). A greater proportion of patients diagnosed with heart failure experienced problems than those with other diagnoses, and these problems were more severe. Amongst myocardial infarction patients, a greater proportion of females than males reported severe problems in the emotional and physical areas, and patients 65 years and over were more likely than younger patients to report experiencing severe problems with physical condition. Conclusions Many cardiac patients are experiencing psychosocial problems 4 months after hospital discharge, especially with physical activities and convalescence. A knowledge of the incidence and nature of these problems may help nurses to assist patients to validate their experiences.