Factors associated with patient delay in seeking care after worsening symptoms in heart failure patients

J Card Fail. 2011 Aug;17(8):657-63. doi: 10.1016/j.cardfail.2011.04.004. Epub 2011 May 28.


Background: To receive optimal treatment and care, it is essential that heart failure (HF) patients react adequately to worsening symptoms and contact a health care provider early. This specific "patient delay" is an important part of the total delay time. The purpose of this study was to assess patient delay and its associated variables in HF patients.

Methods and results: In this cross-sectional study, data of 911 hospitalized HF patients from 17 Dutch hospitals (mean age 71 ± 12 years; 62% male; left ventricular ejection fraction 34 ± 15%) were analyzed. During the index hospitalization, patient delay and HF symptoms were assessed by interview. Patients completed questionnaires on depressive symptoms, knowledge and compliance. Clinical and demographic data were collected from medical charts and interviews by an independent data collector. Logistic regression analysis was performed to examine independent associations with patient delay. Median patient delay was 48 hours; 296 patients reported short delay (<12 h) and 341 long delay (≥168 h). A history of myocardial infarction (MI) (odds ratio [OR] 0.49, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.34-0.71) or stroke (OR 0.43, 95% CI 0.24-0.76) was independently associated with short patient delay. Male gender, more HF knowledge, and more HF symptoms were associated with long patient delay. No differences were found between patients with and without a history of HF.

Conclusions: Patients with a history of a life-threatening event (MI or stroke) had a shorter delay than patients without such an event. Patients without a life-threatening event might need to be educated on the recognition and need for appropriate action in a different way then those with an acute threatening previous experience.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / diagnosis*
  • Heart Failure / psychology
  • Heart Failure / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care* / psychology
  • Patient Compliance* / psychology
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Time Factors