Typical and atypical symptoms of myocardial infarction among African-Americans, whites, and Koreans

Crit Care Nurs Clin North Am. 2001 Dec;13(4):531-9.


Most public education about the clinical symptoms of MI and the appropriate response to those symptoms has been designed to reach educated segments of the white population based on data gathered from white men. As a result, AAs and Korean-Americans may be less alert to chest pain, less likely to relate this symptom to heart attack, and less likely to seek treatment promptly. Our findings provide a race-specific database on CHD risk factors and types of MI symptoms, which should be of particular interest to the trauma and emergency care nurse as well as to the coronary care nurse. AAs and Koreans experienced chest pain as frequently as whites, but AAs experienced the atypical symptoms of dyspnea and fatigue more often, and Koreans experienced dyspnea, perspiration, and fatigue more often than whites. This information can be helpful in developing public education programs on MI that are sensitive to our increasingly diverse population. In the acute and critical care setting, these data assist the nurse to recognize that "classic" signs and symptoms of acute MI may not be classic for all racial and ethnic groups. This awareness can lead to more culturally sensitive assessment tools and educational interventions, earlier recognition of acute MI with more appropriate triage decisions, more aggressive treatment, and a reduction in morbidity and mortality of these high-risk groups.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Asians*
  • Blacks*
  • Clinical Nursing Research
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnosis*
  • Myocardial Infarction / ethnology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Whites*