Acute myocardial infarction in middle-aged women: narrations from the patients and their partners during rehabilitation

M Svedlund, I Axelsson
Intensive & Critical Care Nursing: the Official Journal of the British Association of Critical Care Nurses 2000, 16 (4): 256-65
The purpose of this study was to examine the meaning of lived experiences after an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and being a partner to an afflicted woman, as it is narrated during rehabilitation. Nine women and their partners narrated their experiences three and twelve months after AMI. The interview texts were transcribed and then interpreted, using a phenomenological-hermeneutic method inspired by the philosophy of Ricoeur. The result showed that their experiences of the illness contained two themes: 'rehabilitation needed' and 'loss of freedom' which contains eight sub-themes; 'adapting to it', 'struggling against it', 'living as normally as possible', 'having insight into how it can be', 'feeling guilty and ashamed about being weak', 'withholding feelings', 'feeling useless', and 'feeling fatigued and losing strength'. After further interpretation, the themes gave a deeper meaning of living with AMI and how it affects women and their partners. The women conceded that they felt distressed and vulnerable but struggled against the fear the illness means. The partner's role appears to be one of trying to adapt to the women's experiences of the illness. That the women withheld their feelings and did not talk about them indicates a lack of communication between the couples. As coronary care nurses often come very close both to the afflicted persons and the relatives they fill an important function in each patient's recovery. The nurses could help and prepare the patients and their relatives to understand better such feelings and reactions as could appear after discharge from hospital.

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