Improved Recognition of Heart Attack and Stroke Symptoms After a Community-Based Intervention for Older Adults, Georgia, 2006-2007
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Improved Recognition of Heart Attack and Stroke Symptoms After a Community-Based Intervention for Older Adults, Georgia, 2006-2007

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      In Georgia, mortality from stroke is 16% higher and from cardiovascular disease is 9% higher than it is nationally. Although 75% of Georgia adults have 2 or more modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease, less than half recognize all major heart attack and stroke warning symptoms. To reduce disability and prevent death from cardiovascular events, high-risk population groups should be able to recognize symptoms and seek immediate medical attention.


      We evaluated a 4-month education intervention in 40 senior centers in Georgia. The intervention focused on improving knowledge of heart attack and stroke symptoms and on promoting lifestyle behaviors that prevent and manage cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Participants in a convenience sample completed a pretest questionnaire, the intervention, and a posttest questionnaire (N = 693, mean age, 75 years, 84% female, 45% black).


      After the intervention, recognition of all 5 symptoms of heart attack increased from 29% at the pretest to 46% at the posttest, and recognition of all 5 symptoms of stroke increased from 42% at the pretest to 65% at the posttest (for both conditions, P < .001). In linear regression analyses, independent positive predictors of change in knowledge were younger age and higher education. Most risk factors for cardiovascular disease were not predictive.


      The results of this evaluation provide an evidence base for the effectiveness of this intervention in improving knowledge about heart attack and stroke symptoms, which may translate to greater preparedness in these older adults for response to cardiovascular events.

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