Myocardial infarction: narrations by afflicted women and their partners of lived experiences in daily life following an acute myocardial infarction

Marianne Svedlund, Ella Danielson
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2004, 13 (4): 438-46

BACKGROUND: The review of the literature showed that many people and their family members share feelings of distress after an acute myocardial infarction. Therefore, it is important to show how the illness affects the relationship in the couple's daily life when the closest relatives involved are men.

AIM: The aim was to illuminate the meaning of lived experiences in daily life after an acute myocardial infarction, as narrated by afflicted women and their partners.

METHODS: Nine women and their partners narrated their experiences three and 12 months after an infarction. The interview texts were then interpreted, using a phenomenological hermeneutic method, inspired by the philosophy of Ricoeur. The text was divided into meaning units that were condensed and abstracted. Two themes and eight sub-themes were then extracted from the text.

RESULTS: The first theme was 'living in a changed life situation' with the sub-themes: 'showing consideration', 'taking responsibility', 'living side by side' and 'desiring what to do'. The second theme was 'looking to the future' with the sub-themes: 'feeling uncertain', 'feeling powerless', 'feeling limited' and 'feeling hope'.

CONCLUSIONS: The results revealed that couples lived in a changed life situation, somewhat in 'discordance', and showed consideration to each other in order to protect the partner. There seemed to be a lack of verbal communication, but both women and their partners revealed that they sensed how their partners felt without verbal communication. In this 'discordance', couples may experience loneliness, in that they may not share feelings about the event and the situation it causes.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Women and their partner have specific needs in daily living following an acute myocardial infarction. Therefore, nurses should acknowledge the specific needs for the female patient and the partner more clearly.

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