More women than men are dying of cardiovascular disease. The misconception persists that heart disease is a "man's disease" and not an urgent health care issue for women. In the United States, heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined. In 1997, 228,679 women died due to cardiovascular disease, and 41,443 women died from breast cancer. Yet, women are still not assessed effectively for their risk factors for cardiovascular disease; therefore, women are under-diagnosed and under-treated for this disease. The purpose of this study was to evaluate women's knowledge of cardiovascular disease risk factors, assess their perception of risk, and evaluate the knowledge of women regarding signs and symptoms of a heart attack. The theoretical framework utilized for this study was Pender's Health Promotion Model. This model includes concepts that directly or indirectly influence decision making and actions of individuals in preventing disease. The research questions that guided this study were as follows: What is the perception of risk for women regarding cardiovascular disease? What is the knowledge level of women regarding 111 cardiovascular disease risk factors? And are women knowledgeable of heart attack signs and symptoms? The sample consisted of 59 adult females over 21 years of age in northeast Mississippi employed at local industrial sites who consented to participate in the study. Data were collected using the Women's Health Survey, which addressed knowledge of risk factors, perceptions of risk for cardiovascular disease, and knowledge of heart attack signs and symptoms. Descriptive statistics using measures of central tendency, including frequencies and percentages, were utilized to interpret the data. The study revealed that women did regard heart disease as their biggest health care risk {n = 20, 33%). Risk factor awareness addressed criteria including: family medical history, tobacco use, history of diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, depression or anxiety, and hypertension, height and weight, activity level, menopausal status, and stress level. The risk factors that were most prevalent for this sample were 23% (n = 14) aware of their cholesterol level, being overweight (BMI of 28), and identified themselves frequently irritable and stressed (n = 36, 61%). It was predetermined that 80% of the sample had to score 80% on the knowledge portion of the survey to be considered knowledgeable of signs and iv symptoms of heart attack. Only 22 participants (38%) scored above 80% on the knowledge portion of the survey. The current research indicates that nurse practitioners need to focus on cardiovascular disease risk factors and instructions on sign and symptoms of heart attacks in women. Nurse practitioners should be aware that women and atypical symptomatology for cardiovascular disease presence and adapt their care and teaching to address the educational needs of this population. Recommendations for further research include larger scale studies to obtain a more demographically diverse group and conduction of research to assess the screening practices of nurse practitioners and cardiovascular disease awareness practices.


Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


Graduate Nursing

Degree Date


Publication Number


First Advisor

Lynn Chilton

Second Advisor

Melinda E Rush

Document Type


Included in

Nursing Commons