The main purpose of this study was to examine the significance of health beliefs, perceived seriousness of harmful consequences and perceived barriers in explaining health care-seeking decisions of patients experiencing myocardial infarction symptoms. A structured interview guide developed by the researchers that included health beliefs, patient delay, sociodemographics and clinical characteristics of the patients was introduced to 79 myocardial infarction patients on the third day of hospitalization. Thirty-eight per cent of the patients delayed the health care-seeking decision > 1 h. Gender, age and perceived seriousness of the consequences significantly distinguished between delayers and non-delayers, correctly classifying 77% of the cases. Delayers were more likely to be female and young adults, and those who perceived increased negative consequences to myocardial infarction. Educational and counselling programmes for individuals at increased risk for myocardial infarction should consider the negative influence of perceived seriousness of consequences on the decision-making process of the patients. Also, interventions to change women's perception of their vulnerability to this illness are needed.