Managing consequences and finding hope—experiences of Swedish women and men 4-6 months after myocardial infarction

Marja-Leena Kristofferzon, Rurik Löfmark, Marianne Carlsson
Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences 2008, 22 (3): 367-75
Research has focused more on symptoms, risk factors and treatment, than on individuals' experiences of illness and recovery after myocardial infarction (MI). Therefore, the aim of the study was to describe the experiences of present everyday life of women and men 4-6 months after MI and their expectations for the future. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 women and 19 men from January 2000 to November 2001. Data were analysed with content analysis. Two themes, 'Managing consequences of MI' and 'Finding a meaning in what had happened', were generated. The first theme reveals that many of the patients had not established a stable health condition, even if symptoms and emotional distress had diminished over time. They had to manage health problems, lifestyle modifications, emotional reactions and changes in social life. The support from their social network encouraged them to move on. The second theme shows that patients also found positive consequences of what they had gone through, new life values and hopes in the future. The conclusions were that most of the patients moved on and began to regain a balance in everyday life, but some patients still struggled hard to find this balance. Those patients experienced large difficulties with managing their everyday life and felt a lack of support from their social network. Health professionals can be an important resource in helping patients in their adaptation to changes if they are more sensitive to patients' needs of support both in a short- and long-term perspective.

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