Abstract 4069: Refusal to Seek Medical Care for Symptoms Prior to Sudden Cardiac Death
Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is accompanied by preceding symptoms in a significant proportion of victims, with a median duration of up to 2 hours in some cases. The purpose of this study was to describe the characteristics of SCD victims with heralding symptoms who refused medical care. We conducted a secondary data analysis of interview data from witnesses of 99 cases of out-of-hospital presumed myocardial infarction death with known symptoms. Qualitative description methods were used to analyze qualitative data. Logistic regression was used to test the influence of type of symptoms (chest pain vs. non-chest pain), history of heart disease, and age on refusal of medical care. Categorization as refusal of medical care required conversation with someone where refusal was expressed verbally by the victim. There were 19 cases (19%) that refused medical care; their mean age was 72. The majority were male (16/19, 84%). Fifteen cases involved persistent refusal, defined as refusing care until collapse (range of <15 minutes to 60 hours). Four victims initially refused care and then permitted access to medical care. The suggestion for seeking medical care came from someone else in all but one case, and usually included multiple attempts. The care options offered but refused included calling 911 or a doctor, as well as going to the hospital, emergency department or a doctor’s office. Reasons for refusal of medical care (more than one reason in some cases) included stating the symptoms were due to something not urgent (n=10), other obligations (n=3), expressed dislike of hospitals or doctors (n=4), or recent medical reassurance of health status (n=7). Controlling for age, victims with chest pain vs. non-chest pain symptoms were more likely (OR = 3.56, p = .036, 95% CI = 1.09 –11.66) to refuse medical care and those with a history of heart disease were less likely (OR = .16, p = .004, 95% CI = .05–.55) to refuse medical care. Patients with chest pain and no history of heart disease are more likely to refuse advice to seek medical care. Public health messages about how to respond to cardiac symptoms should include strategies to overcome the reasons people refuse medical care.
This research has received full or partial funding support from the American Heart Association, AHA Pacific/Mountain Affiliate (Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington & Wyoming).