Women living with coronary heart disease, barriers to care
Hogg, Marilynne Audrey
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The myth that Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is a male problem originated with studies conducted in the 1950s and 60s. Women are not aware of the extent of their risk, yet heart disease is the leading cause of death among North American women. In a 1996 Gallup poll, 67% of doctors did not know that cardiac disease symptoms, warning signs, and diagnosis were different for women. Feminist activities continue to advocate for woman-centered health care. In this study, a qualitative methodology was utilized. Women with CHD were invited to participate in Focus Groups and describe their experience of living with the disease. Four major themes emerged: Being Heard, Helps and Hindrances, Validation, and Living for the New Me. Findings revealed that there was still evidence of gender bias and that women experienced an array of barriers to care. Support was apparent, but the women voiced a lack of understanding by others of what they were experiencing, especially the depression and extreme fatigue. Staff were caring, helpful and provided necessary information. Fear of dying alone was revealed, which had not been addressed in the literature reviewed. Implications for caregivers included continuing to address gender bias, and focusing on prevention, especially targeting young women. Including families in education programs was suggested to enhance understanding.