Knowledge, attitudes, and preventative practices regarding ischemic heart disease among emergency department patients in northern Tanzania

J.T.Hertz ae, F.M.Sakita b, P.Manavalan c, B.T.Mmbaga d, N.M.Thielmane, C.A.Staton ae
Publication year: 


The objective of this study is to increase understanding of knowledge, attitudes, and preventative practices regarding ischemic heart disease (IHD) in sub-Saharan Africa in order to develop patient-centered interventions to improve care and outcomes.


Study design

This is a prospective observational study.



Adult patients presenting with chest pain or shortness of breath to an emergency department in northern Tanzania were enrolled. A questionnaire was adapted from existing knowledge attitude and practice surveys regarding cardiovascular disease and the WHO STEPS instrument. Individual five-year risk of cardiovascular event was determined by validated models based on age, sex, systolic blood pressure, body mass index, diabetes, and smoking status. An IHD knowledge score was calculated by giving one point for each correct response to the knowledge-related items, with a maximum score of 10. Associations between IHD knowledge and patient characteristics were assessed by Welch's t-test.



A total of 349 patients were enrolled, with median interquartile range (IQR) age 60 (45, 72) years. Of participants, 259 (74.2%) had hypertension, and 228 (65.3%) had greater than 10% five-year risk of cardiovascular event. The mean (SD) knowledge score was 4.8 (3.3). The majority of respondents (224, 64.2%) recognized obesity as a risk factor for heart attack, while a minority (34, 9.7%) knew that a daily aspirin could reduce the risk of cardiovascular event. Greater IHD knowledge was associated with younger age (P = 0.045) and higher levels of education (P < 0.001) but not higher risk of cardiovascular disease (P = 0.123). Most respondents expressed a willingness to diet to improve their health (322, 92.3%) and a preference for treatment from a physician rather than a traditional healer for a heart attack (321, 92.0%). A minority of patients reported exercising regularly (88, 25.2%) or seeing a doctor routinely for checkups (100, 28.7%).



High-risk emergency department patients in northern Tanzania have moderate knowledge regarding IHD but do not consistently engage in healthy preventive practices. Patient-centered interventions are needed to improve IHD knowledge and practices in high-risk populations.