• coronary heart disease;
  • Chinese;
  • health education;
  • nurses;
  • nursing;
  • patients’ experiences

Aim.  To explore the experiences of patients with coronary heart disease in China.

Background.  The morbidity and mortality rates of people with coronary heart disease have been growing rapidly in the past decades in China, yet little is known about the experiences of Chinese patients with the disease.

Design.  A qualitative descriptive study.

Methods.  Face-to-face semi-structured interviews were employed in this study. Using a purposive sample, 11 participants who had been diagnosed with coronary heart disease for at least one month were recruited. A content analysis was used to identify themes.

Results.  Three themes were identified from the data: experiencing a life-threatening illness, strategies for adapting to living with coronary heart disease and help-seeking behaviour.

Conclusion.  Chinese patients with coronary heart disease experienced the disease as a life-threatening illness related to chest pain. Chinese culture, values and beliefs influenced their adaptation strategies and help-seeking behaviour. Their misconceptions about coronary heart disease and the information needs for lifestyle changes were evident in this study. This study highlights the need for health education to support coronary heart disease patients in China.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The findings provide useful information for Chinese health professionals to develop interventions for Chinese patients with coronary heart disease.