Document Type


Publication Date



BACKGROUND: Delays in seeking treatment for signs and symptoms of acute myocardial infarction are longer for African Americans than for whites.

OBJECTIVE: To determine factors associated with prolonged delay and the extent to which perceived racism influences prehospital delay in African Americans with acute myocardial infarction.

METHODS: Sixty-one African Americans with acute myocardial infarction were interviewed within 1 month of hospital admission. Delay times were calculated on the basis of the interviews. Independent t tests and chi(2) tests were used to determine factors associated with prolonged delays. RESULTS: Median delay was 4.25 hours and did not differ significantly between women and men (4.42 vs 3.50 hours). Most patients (69%) experienced their initial signs and symptoms at home, often witnessed by family members or friends (70%). Delay was longer for insured patients than for uninsured patients (4.45 vs 0.50 hours). Single, widowed, or divorced patients had longer delay times than did married patients (5.33 vs 2.50 hours), and patients with diabetes delayed longer than did those without diabetes (7.29 vs 3.50 hours). Perceived racism did not differ significantly between patients who delayed seeking treatment and those who did not.

CONCLUSIONS: Median delay times were substantially longer than the recommended time of less than 1 hour, reducing the benefit from reperfusion therapies. Education and counseling of patients and their families should be a major strategy in optimizing patients' outcomes and decreasing the time to definitive treatment.


This article was published by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses and is available at: