An Integrative Review of Fatigue Experienced by Women Before and During Myocardial Infarction

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Aims and objectives

To explore the extant literature for key features of prodromal and acute myocardial infarction fatigue experienced by women, including estimates of severity, narrative descriptors, impacts on activities of daily living and frequency, and to describe what is known from the current evidence base.


Several studies, conducted across the globe, have investigated prodromal and acute myocardial infarction symptoms experienced by women and suggested that fatigue is prevalent, and they have also sporadically described specific characteristics of fatigue, such as narrative descriptors and severity. However, no review specific to this acute and prodromal fatigue could be located in the literature.


Integrative review, guided by Whittemore and Knafl's approach and the Theory of Unpleasant Symptoms.


We used a comprehensive, systematic approach to searching, screening, selecting, evaluating and analysing the records. Data were collected in February 2017.


Twenty‐one articles were included in the review, including nine quantitative, six qualitative and six mixed‐methods studies, with the majority (14) published in the USA. The average age of participants across the studies was the early 60s. Distress, quality, intensity and timing of prodromal myocardial infarction fatigue were more completely described in the literature than acute myocardial infarction fatigue.


Fatigue is the most common prodromal myocardial infarction symptom experienced by women and is also a common acute symptom. Additional research exploring prodromal and acute myocardial infarction fatigue is necessary.

Relevance to clinical practice

As healthcare professionals work with women across the healthcare spectrum, recognising fatigue as an important potential myocardial infarction symptom is essential. Not only can women be educated about this symptom and other possible myocardial infarction symptoms, but clinicians can consider fatigue as an important symptom in a constellation of factors when evaluating women's health and the potential for coronary disease and myocardial infarction.


This article was published in Journal of Critical Nursing 27, no. 5-6 (2018): 906-916.