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East Afr Med J. 2007 Jul;84(7):318-23.

Perception of ischaemic heart disease, knowledge of and attitude to reduction of its risk factors.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, Nigeria.



To assess the perception of ischaemic heart disease (heart attack) as a cause of mortality and determine the current knowledge of its risk factors as well as the level of adoption of preventive strategies among Nigerians working in a tertiary institution.


Cross-sectional study.


University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria.


Five hundred randomly selected University workers both senior and junior staff.


Assessment of the awareness of ischaemic heart disease as a cause of morbidity and mortality, knowledge of risk factors and degree of adoption of lifestyle modification strategies.


Only 136 (27.7%) of respondents considered ischaemic heart disease (heart attack) as the leading cause of death in their environment while 201 (40.2%) thought it was hypertension. Smoking was readily identified by 70.6% as a risk factor, excessive alcohol use by 52.8% and 41.6% of respondents identified obesity. Sedentary life-style and oral contraceptive use were least identified with only 16.6% and 6.4% of respondents respectively identifying them. This knowledge was significantly influenced by the educational status and cadre of the subjects. The senior staff who were also better educated demonstrated more knowledge. Two point two percent of respondents were smokers and smoked ten sticks of cigarettes or less per day. All expressed willingness to stop. One hundred and fifty eight admitted taking alcohol, most taking less than ten units a week and of these, only 64 were willing to quit. Fifty three point four percent (29.2% of senior and 24.2% of junior undertook some exercise while only 45.6% checked their body weights regularly. Only 25% of all the respondents visited the hospital or clinic for routine medical check-up. No statistically significant difference was found between the senior/better educated and the junior/less educated members of staff in the adoption of these life style modification measures. Sixty four point four percent got medical information from doctors and other health workers.


Level of awareness of ishaemic heart disease as a leading cause of death is poor even in an academic environment. Knowledge of risk factors is also poor and is influenced by the level of educational attainment. Life style modification strategies are still not widely accepted irrespective of educational status. A concerted public health response is advocated to improve the present level of knowledge and establish behavioural changes.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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