Researchers team up to educate women about heart attack

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Researchers team up to teach women about heart attack warning signs.
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Educating women about heart attack or myocardial infarction has become a focus of researchers at Binghamton University and SUNY Upstate Medical University. The impetus is to save women’s lives who often don't recognize heart attack warning signs, The research program is called “Matters of Your Heart.”

Compared to men, women are less likely to seek heart attack treatment. Symptoms can vary slightly between men and women.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), women respond differently to heart attack. They are less likely to believe it’s happening, which is one of the reasons for delayed treatment that can lead to disability and death.

Pamela Stewart Fahs, professor and Decker Chair in Rural Nursing at Binghamton University’s Decker School of Nursing, and Melanie Kalman, associate professor and director of research, and Margaret Wells, assistant professor, in the College of Nursing at SUNY Upstate Medical University are collaborating the “Matters of Your Heart” program that began with meeting with women and having then fill out questionnaires.

After they presented the program to 141 women groups, they again administered questionnaires to test the women’s knowledge of heart attack, finding the presentation increased their knowledge.

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The educational offering is modeled after a program that the researchers designed to teach people about stroke symptoms, using a mnemonic created by the American Heart Association - American Heart Association— FAST, for Face, Arm, Speech and Time. Fahs and Kalman also used a mnemonic to teach women about heart attack.

The next phase of the program will begin in the spring. The researchers will compare the use of mnemonics to teach women about heart attack warning signs to educational classes to see which works better. Fahs will reach out to women in rural areas and Wells will teach women in urban Syracuse, New York.

“Having knowledge doesn’t necessarily change your behavior,” Stewart Fahs says. “But if you don’t have the knowledge, you’re unlikely to change.

The researchers will continue to collaborate to reach a broader population of women, and then conduct longitudinal studies to see if educating women – perhaps to include cell phone apps – will change the way women respond to warning signs of heart attack, which would ultimately lead to better treatments.

Sources:
Binghamton University State University of New York
"Fighting Heart Disease in Women in Rural Areas"

"Matters of the Heart: Women and Cardiovascular Disease"
New York Nurse
Member Spotlight
October, 2011
Alison Munday

Image credit: Morguefile

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