Knowledge of myocardial infarction symptoms and perceptions of self-risk in Tanzania

Am Heart J. 2019 Apr;210:69-74. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2019.01.003. Epub 2019 Jan 15.

Abstract

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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Chest Pain / etiology
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / complications
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnosis*
  • Risk
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Symptom Assessment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Tanzania