Tales from the Heart: Rural American Women's Experience with Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Holly Evans Madison, PhD, RN
RN to BS Nursing, Maria College, Albany, NY

Learning Objective 1: Describe the experiences of rural women in the U.S. during their diagnosis and treatment for coronary heart disease (CHD).

Learning Objective 2: Discuss how this knowledge can contribute to the development to innovative approaches to health care delivery for rural women diagnosed with coronary heart disease CHD.


Historically, women have been underrepresented in research regarding coronary heart disease (CHD) and assumptions have been made based on what has been uncovered regarding men’s experience with CHD. However, recently researchers have found that women differ from men in the development, expression, and outcomes of CHD. Therefore, it is important to gain insight into U.S. women’s experiences with the diagnosis and treatment of coronary heart disease (CHD) in order to develop innovate approaches to meet their needs and to assure the best possible outcomes.


Qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted from the purposeful sample of ten women from rural New England who had been diagnosed with CHD.


Six themes emerged that describe the women's experiences with the diagnosis and treatment for CHD. They were: It’s all about me; Is it my heart?  Too many balls in the air; Health promotion - one from column A…; Facing mortality: and But I love it here!.


Nurses have a vital role in providing education and support for women who have been diagnosed with CHD to assure the best possible outcomes.  To enhance outcomes, women must be knowledgeable about the signs and symptoms of the disease, the risk factors, and components of a heart healthy lifestyle.  In addition, the data from this study suggests that women have psychosocial needs that must also be addressed when diagnosed with CHD.  Therefore it is necessary that healthcare delivery systems be in place that supports not only their physical needs, but the women’s psychosocial needs as well.