BACKGROUND: Nepal currently faces an increasing burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Earlier studies on health literacy and the behavior dimension of cardiovascular health reported a substantial gap between knowledge and practice.
OBJECTIVE: This qualitative study aimed to deepen understanding of the community perspective on cardiovascular health from the patients' viewpoint.
DESIGN: We conducted in-depth interviews (IDIs) with 13 individuals with confirmed heart disease, hypertension, or diabetes mellitus. All participants provided verbal consent. We used an IDI guide to ask respondents about their perception and experiences with CVD, particularly regarding causation and preventability. We manually applied qualitative content analysis to evaluate the data and grouped similar content into categories and subcategories.
RESULTS: Respondents perceived dietary factors, particularly consumption of salty, fatty, and oily food, as the main determinants of CVD. Similarly, our respondents unanimously linked smoking, alcohol intake, and high blood pressure with cardiac ailments but reported mixed opinion regarding the causal role of body weight and physical inactivity. Although depressed and stressed at the time of diagnosis, respondents learned to handle their situation better over time. Despite good family support for health care, the financial burden of disease was a major issue. All respondents understood the importance of lifestyle modification and relied upon health professionals for information and motivation. Respondents remarked that community awareness of CVD was inadequate and that medical doctors or trained local people should help increase awareness.
CONCLUSIONS: This study provided insight into the perceptions of patients regarding CVD. Respondents embraced the importance of lifestyle modification only after receiving their diagnosis. Although better health care is important in terms of aiding patients to better understand and cope with their disease, interventions should be tailored to improve the community's cardiovascular health literacy and preventive practices.
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