Cardiovascular health knowledge and behavior in patient attendants at four tertiary care hospitals in Pakistan -- a cause for concern

Jafary, Fahim H.; Aslam, Fawad; Mahmud, Hussain; Waheed, Abdul; Shakir, Murtaza; Afzal, Atif; Qayyum, Mohammad A.; Akram, Javed; Khan, Iqbal S.; Haque, Irshad U.
January 2005
BMC Public Health;2005, Vol. 5 Issue 1, p124
Academic Journal
Background: Knowledge about coronary heart disease (CHD) and its risk factors is an important pre-requisite for an individual to implement behavioral changes leading towards CHD prevention. There is scant data on the status of knowledge about CHD in the general population of Pakistan. The objective of this study was to assess knowledge of CHD in a broad Pakistani population and identify the factors associated with knowledge. Methods: Cross sectional study was carried out at four tertiary care hospitals in Pakistan using convenience sampling. Standard questionnaire was used to interview 792 patient attendants (persons accompanying patients). Knowledge was computed as a continuous variable based on correct answers to fifteen questions. Multivariable linear regression was conducted to determine the factors independently associated with knowledge. Results: The mean age was 38.1 (±13) years. 27.1% had received no formal education. The median knowledge score was 3.0 out of a possible maximum of 15. Only 14% were able to correctly describe CHD as a condition involving limitation in blood flow to the heart. Majority of respondents could identify only up to two risk factors for CHD. Most commonly identified risk factors were stress (43.4%), dietary fat (39.1%), smoking (31.9%) and lack of exercise (17.4%). About 20% were not able to identify even a single risk factor for CHD. Factors significantly associated with knowledge included age (p = 0.023), income (p < 0.001), education level (p < 0.001), residence (p < 0.001), a family history of CHD (p < 0.001) and a past history of diabetes (p = 0.004). Preventive practices were significantly lacking; 35%, 65.3% and 84.6% had never undergone assessment of blood pressure, glucose or cholesterol respectively. Only a minority felt that they would modify their diet, stop smoking or start exercising if a family member was to develop CHD. Conclusion: This is the first study assessing the state of CHD knowledge in a relatively diverse non-patient population in Pakistan. There are striking gaps in knowledge about CHD, its risk factors and symptoms. These translate to inadequate preventive behavior patterns. Educational programs are urgently required to improve the level of understanding of CHD in the Pakistani population.


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