Public knowledge of the symptoms of myocardial infarction: a street survey in Birmingham, England

S Whitaker, T Baldwin, M Tahir, O Choudhry, A Senior, Sheila Greenfield

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Background. Myocardial infarction (MI) is a leading cause of death in the UK. A good clinical outcome depends on rapid treatment following the onset of symptoms. A person's knowledge of typical symptoms determines how quickly they present to the medical services. Objectives. To investigate knowledge of MI symptoms among the general population and the relationship between age, gender and socio-economic status with knowledge. Methods. Street survey of 302 participants in Birmingham, UK, using an interviewer-assisted questionnaire. Results. Of seven symptoms accepted in the medical literature as typical of an MI, central chest pain was the most frequently identified (75% of the sample), followed by arm pain or numbness (40%), shortness of breath (35%), fainting or dizziness (21%) and sweating (21%). Feeling or being sick and neck or jaw pain were mentioned by 8.1% and 5.9%, respectively, while an atypical or inapplicable symptom, collapse (9.9%) was mentioned more often than these. Over half the sample knew only two or fewer MI symptoms. The mean number of typical symptoms identified was 2.2 (SD = 1.28). Respondents from professional occupations and those with previous experience of MI, whether direct or indirect, showed better awareness. Conclusions. The study demonstrated a paucity of knowledge of MI symptoms among the general public. Such findings provide a baseline to guide public health campaigns targeting awareness of MI.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)168-173
    Number of pages6
    JournalFamily Practice
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012


    • myocardial infarction
    • General public
    • symptom knowledge


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