Symptom clusters and treatment time delay in Korean patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction on admission

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Most patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI) experience more than one symptom at onset. Although symptoms are an important early indicator, patients and physicians may have difficulty interpreting symptoms and detecting AMI at an early stage. This study aimed to identify symptom clusters among Korean patients with ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), to examine the relationship between symptom clusters and patient-related variables, and to investigate the influence of symptom clusters on treatment time delay (decision time [DT], onset-to-balloon time [OTB]). This was a prospective multicenter study with a descriptive design that used face-to-face interviews. A total of 342 patients with STEMI were included in this study. To identify symptom clusters, two-step cluster analysis was performed using SPSS software. Multinomial logistic regression to explore factors related to each cluster and multiple logistic regression to determine the effect of symptom clusters on treatment time delay were conducted. Three symptom clusters were identified: cluster 1 (classic MI; characterized by chest pain); cluster 2 (stress symptoms; sweating and chest pain); and cluster 3 (multiple symptoms; dizziness, sweating, chest pain, weakness, and dyspnea). Compared with patients in clusters 2 and 3, those in cluster 1 were more likely to have diabetes or prior MI. Patients in clusters 2 and 3, who predominantly showed other symptoms in addition to chest pain, had a significantly shorter DT and OTB than those in cluster 1. In conclusion, to decrease treatment time delay, it seems important that patients and clinicians recognize symptom clusters, rather than relying on chest pain alone. Further research is necessary to translate our findings into clinical practice and to improve patient education and public education campaigns.

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