Family burden or caregiver's burden in young cardiac patients Open Access

Sun, Jinyi (2015)

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Introduction: Caring for ill relatives is burdensome and stressful to many family members and may adversely affect caregivers' health status and increase the risk of adverse events. Existing research found that family burden is associated with the risk for coronary heart disease (CHD), but little is known about the relationship between caregiving burden and mental stress-induced myocardial ischemia, a prognostic factor in patients with CHD. We aimed to examine sex and race differences in family burden and the association between family burden and mental stress-induced myocardial ischemia in young post-MI patients.

Methods: We studied 228 patients younger than 60 years who were admitted in the previous 8 months with a confirmed diagnosis of myocardial infarction (MI) in a cross-sectional study with an experimental task. Participants received three single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging scans, one with rest, one with mental stress and one with physical stress. A summed difference score was used to assess the severity of myocardial ischemia. Family burden was assessed through questionnaires.

Results: Bivariate analysis showed that women, patients who had a lifetime history of major depression or those who were obese were more likely to perceive family burden were more likely to perceive family burden compared to men (60.9% vs 39.1%, P = 0.0081; 38.3% vs 22.1%, P = 0.0092; 43.3% vs 23.0%, P = 0.0028). However, race was not associated with family burden. In addition, family burden was not associated with either physical stress or mental stress in the unadjusted and adjusted models.

Conclusion: Our study confirmed a strong association of family burden with caregivers' sex, with women having more caregiving burden, but there was no relationship with race. Although our results show no association between family burden and mental stress-induced myocardial ischemia in younger post-MI patients, we did find substantial associations of family burden with depression and obesity, suggesting that family burden may increase cardiovascular risk in the long term in this population through these factors.

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