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Do You Know Them When You See Them? Women's Prodromal and Acute Symptoms of Myocardial Infarction

McSweeney, Jean C. PhD, RN; Cody, Marisue PhD, RN; Crane, Patricia B. PhD, RN

The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing: April 2001 - Volume 15 - Issue 3 - p 26-38
Heart Disease in Women

This study described women's prodromal and acute symptoms associated with myocardial infarction (MI) based on interviews with 76 women who had experienced an MI in the previous year. Sixty-eight women experienced prodromal symptoms including unusual fatigue (70%), shortness of breath (53%), and pain in the shoulder blade/upper back (47%). All women experienced acute symptoms including chest pain/discomfort (90%), unusual fatigue (59%), shortness of breath (59%), and shoulder blade/upper back discomfort (42%). Although women in this study reported numerous prodromal symptoms, none had received a new diagnosis of coronary heart disease (CHD) prior to MI. Practitioners must develop an awareness of and a more comprehensive approach to treating women at risk for CHD. Further research to elucidate prodromal and acute symptom clusters is needed to assist practitioners in early diagnosis of CHD in women.

Associate Professor; College of Nursing; University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Research Health Scientist; Little Rock VA Medical Center

Project Director; College of Nursing; University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; Little Rock, Arkansas

This study was funded by the Arkansas affiliate of the American Heart Association and by an intramural grant from the College of Nursing of The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Address correspondence to: Jean C. McSweeney, PhD, RN, Associate Professor, College of Nursing, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 4301 West Markham Street, Slot 529, Little Rock, AR 72205; telephone: 501-686-6012; fax: 501-686-8350; e-mail:

Copyright © 2001 by Aspen Publishers, Inc.