Background: Little is known about community knowledge of myocardial infarction symptoms and perceptions of self-risk in sub-Saharan Africa.
Methods: A community survey was conducted in northern Tanzania, where the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors is high. Households were selected randomly in a population-weighted fashion and surveys were administered to self-identified household healthcare decision-makers. Respondents were asked to list all symptoms of a heart attack and asked whether they thought they had a chance of suffering a heart attack. Associations between participant sociodemographic features and responses to these questions were assessed with Pearson's chi-squared and the Student t test.
Results: There were 718 survey participants, with median (IQR) age 48 (32, 62) years. Of these, 115 (16.0%) were able to identify any conventional symptom of a heart attack, including 24 (3.3%) respondents who cited chest pain as a possible symptom. There was no association between ability to identify a conventional symptom and gender, level of education, socioeconomic status, urban residence, or age. Of respondents, 198 (27.6%) thought they had a chance of suffering a heart attack. Older respondents were more likely to perceive themselves to be at risk (P < .001), but there was no association between perception of self-risk and gender, level of education, socioeconomic status, or urban residence.
Conclusions: In northern Tanzania, knowledge of myocardial infarction symptoms is poor among all segments of the population and only a minority of residents perceive themselves to be at risk of this disease. Educational interventions regarding ischemic heart disease are urgently needed.
Copyright © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.