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The correlates of coronary angioplasty patients’ perceptions of their risk for cardiovascular disease progression and death Kingsbury, Kori Jo


In the context of cardiovascular disease, health initiatives and efforts are aimed at increasing awareness of those "at risk" about the causes of heart disease and the lifestyle behaviours necessary to reduce risks. Despite being informed of their "at risk" status, many individuals do not implement the necessary changes to their lifestyle to mitigate their cardiovascular risk. This may be explained, in part,(by a mismatch between an individual's perception of their risk and their actual risk. Individuals who have optimistic or pessimistic biases about their true cardiovascular risk may be less likely to adopt heart healthful lifestyle behaviours. Using a cross-sectional, correlational design, 134 patients undergoing coronary angioplasty were asked about their perceptions of risk of cardiovascular disease progression and death. To determine the accuracy of these perceptions, the respondents' subjective perceptions were compared to objective estimates of their risk relative to the severity of their cardiac disease. To understand correlates of these perceptions, respondents were asked detailed questions about their cardiac history, cardiovascular risk factors, current lifestyle behaviours, and sociodemographic characteristics. Once the level of accuracy for the risk perceptions was established (accurate, or optimistically or pessimistically biased), data were analysed to determine the relationship between level of accuracy and the adoption of healthful lifestyle behaviours. The results of this study revealed that the respondents' perceptions varied in the level of accuracy: 44.3% were accurate, 32.7% were optimistic, and 23.0% were pessimistic. Age and duration of diagnosis emerged independently as the most significant factors contributing to level of accuracy. The respondents with accurate perceptions of their risk had the shortest duration of diagnosis; those with the longest duration of diagnosis were most likely to be pessimistic. Younger respondents were more accurate in their risk perceptions; older respondents were most likely to be optimistic. Level of accuracy was not related to the individual adopting healthful lifestyle behaviours. Respondents holding accurate perceptions of their risk were neither more nor less likely than respondents holding optimistically or pessimistically biased perceptions to adhere to healthful lifestyle behaviours associated with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease.

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