Farmers with acute chest pain are uncertain how and when to seek help

A pilot study of the prevalence of cardiac risk factors in a group of agricultural workers and of their decision-making abilities with regard to when and how they would seek help when experiencing chest pain has found that most put themselves at risk of dying.

Researchers Dr Tim Baker, (Centre for Rural Emergency Medicine), and Scott McCombe, Cate Mercer-Grant, and Susan Brumby, from the National Centre for Farmer Health and Western District Health Service, studied almost 200 farm men and women recruited from 20 rural Victorian sites. The farmers underwent health assessments for total cholesterol, blood glucose, weight, height and blood pressure, and they completed a survey to determine their knowledge of chest pain treatment, local emergency services, and likely response to chest pain.

In this study, researchers found that 61% of the farmers had cardiac risk factors, with 61% of men and 74% of women either overweight or obese. When asked to name their nearest ED, 10% of participants nominated health services or towns where no ED exists. Sixty seven percent of respondents believed it was safe to travel to hospital by car while potentially having a myocardial infarction.

Improving health literacy among farm men and women is of the utmost importance as they have higher rates of clinical risk factors and appear to be lagging in emergency knowledge and services when compared with their urban and regional counterparts, the researchers maintain.

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Baker, T., McCoombe, S., Mercer-Grant, C. and Brumby, S. (2011), Chest pain in rural communities; balancing decisions and distance. Emergency Medicine Australasia, 23: 337–345. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-6723.2011.01412.x