All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Linda Moneyham

Advisory Committee Members

Reagan Durant

Andrea Cherrington

Glenda Smith

Gail Hill

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Nursing


The American Heart Association (AHA) reported that cardiovascular diseases kill nearly 50,000 African-American (AA) women annually. Of AA women ages 20 and older, 49% have heart diseases. Only 52% of AA women are aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and only 36% of AA women know that heart disease is their greatest health risk. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experience of African American women, 50 years and older, who had experienced a myocardial infarction within the past five years. The primary research questions addressed the women's knowledge of risk factors, and their perceptions of management, and lifestyle changes relevant to coronary artery disease post-MI. This study was consistent with the goal to decrease health disparities of AA women post MI and the Healthy People 2020 goal to improve cardiovascular health through prevention, detection, and treatment of risk. Participants were seven AA recruited from local cardiology offices with histories of myocardial infarction. The primary data collection source was the semi-structured interviews conducted using open-ended questions. Demographic data were collected through a brief written questionnaire. The phenomenological data analysis involved the processes of coding, categorizing, and developing themes. The findings revealed six major themes: life before myocardial infarction, contributing risk factors, early warning signs, life after myocardial infarction, cardiac rehabilitation, and family support. The majorities of women reported unrecognized risk factors prior to MI but are now able to recognize and heed early warning signs, and made lifestyle changes post MI to prevent a recurrence. Lifestyle changes included increasing knowledge and recognition of early warning signs of MI, adherence to medication, smoking cessation, improved dietary habits, exercise, and regular checkups. However, none of the women attended cardiac rehabilitation, and only one having been referred for rehabilitation. Participants identified the support of family to be an important factor supporting their adaptation in the post-MI period. These findings provided a beginning foundation for the development of interventions that are predictably effective in prevention of MIs in AA women.

Included in

Nursing Commons



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