Abstract 18024: Older Adults Lack Knowledge and Confidence to Seek Early Treatment for Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation
Background: Early treatment seeking for atrial fibrillation (AF) is crucial for averting stroke, heart failure and progression of AF, but early treatment is delayed when AF is not recognized. In a recent study, 70% of participants delayed treatment seeking for > one week after symptom onset. Participants were not aware of AF as a condition, did not attribute symptoms to AF, held inaccurate beliefs about symptoms, and did not believe symptoms required medical attention. Understanding the knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about AF in those at risk for developing AF is needed to develop interventions to promote early treatment-seeking.
Purpose: Knowledge, treatment seeking attitudes, and beliefs about AF in participants ≥ 65 years with ≥ 1 medical risk factor for developing AF were measured in this descriptive, cross-sectional study.
Methods: Patients without a diagnosis of AF recruited from an academic medical center were interviewed using the Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs about Atrial Fibrillation Survey. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and independent t-tests.
Results: Participants (N = 180) were predominantly male (62%) with a mean age of 73.7 (±6.0) years and 71% were educated beyond high school. About one-third of participants could not identify typical symptoms of AF including: palpitations (31%); chest pain (36%); dyspnea (30%); lightheadedness (40%); fatigue (35%); and skipped beats (27%). More than half (58%) were not sure when they should seek care for AF symptoms. Nearly a third (32%) believed palpitations are always present with AF and 74% believed symptoms of AF would not be limited to fatigue and low energy. A third (33%) reported they would consult family before seeking treatment. There were no significant differences in responses by sex or educational attainment for knowledge, attitudes, or beliefs.
Conclusions: Participants lacked knowledge and confidence to identify symptoms to aid decision-making for seeking early treatment for symptoms of AF and held inaccurate beliefs about AF that could hinder early treatment seeking.
Implications: Research to test interventions to improve recognition of AF and its symptoms, and to guide action planning for responding to symptoms is needed.
- Atrial fibrillation
- Patient education/teaching psychosocial aspects
- Atrial arrhythmias
- Cardiovascular disease prevention
- Cardiovascular nursing
Author Disclosures: P.J. McCabe: Research Grant; Modest; K23NR014253. C. Austin: None. K. Vickers Douglas: None. D. Barton: None. H. DeVon: None.
- © 2016 by American Heart Association, Inc.