Family support motivates younger patients to make positive lifestyle changes post myocardial infarction

Gemma Caughers, Donna Fitzsimons, Lisa Lusk, Niall McKenna, Conal Hamill

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Introduction: Lifestyle change is challenging for all patients post MI, but the literature suggests younger patients may face distinct obstacles related to work, financial and family pressures. There is limited evidence regarding the impact of family life on behavioural change in this population. Aim: To explore the issues encountered by younger (<50 years) patients as they attempt lifestyle changes post MI. Methods: Semi-structured interviews (n=7) using a Heideggerian phenomenological approach were conducted 6-8 weeks post MI and were taped and transcribed verbatim before framework analysis. Results: Patients (n=6 male) were aged 31-48 years. Four major themes were identified, the first three of these themes were in line with existing literature; Guilt, Grief and Disbelief. The fourth theme was Motivation, which built on the feeling of a "Wake-up call" and using the MI as "Starting blocks for a new lifestyle". There were three distinct aspects to family motivation – Determined to survive, Improving health and quality of life personally and for family and Encouraging others to reduce risk. The need to support a young family was a strong motivator in each interview and participants were determined to survive and live healthier lives to achieve this. Adopting a healthier lifestyle was regarded as key to improving quality of life for them and their family. These younger patients took on the role of ambassadors, determined to reduce cardiovascular risk for those around them e.g. encouraging family members to lose weight, or colleagues to stop smoking and introducing healthier cooking options for the family. Conclusion: This study illustrates the powerful motivating role of young family in MI patients’ lifestyle change. Younger MI patients are prepared to make changes and sacrifices to improve their quality of life and that of their families. Innovative models of cardiac rehabilitation such as My Action actively encourage partners’ participation with good outcomes, but children and other family members could also be involved. Health care professionals should harness the role of the family as a motivator when providing cardiac rehabilitation to potentially enhance outcomes
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2015
EventEuroHeartCare 2015 - Dubrovnik , Croatia
Duration: 14 Jun 201515 Jun 2015


ConferenceEuroHeartCare 2015


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