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Objective: There is little research on how different ethnic groups adapt after an acute cardiac event. This qualitative study explores between-ethnicity and within-ethnicity variation in adaptation, and the psychological impact of an acute cardiac event among UK South Asian and white British people. Setting: We purposively sampled people by ethnic group from general practices in London who had a new myocardial infarction, angina or acute arrhythmia in the preceding 18 months. Participants: We conducted 28 semistructured interviews for exploring the psychological symptoms, experiences and adaptations following a cardiac event among South Asians (Indian and Bangladeshi) in comparison to white British people. Data were analysed using a thematic ‘framework’ approach. Results: Findings showed heterogeneity in experiences of the cardiac event and its subsequent psychological and physical impact. Adaptation to the event related predominantly to life circumstances, personal attitudes and employment status. Anxiety and low mood symptoms were common sequelae, especially in the Bangladeshi group. Indian men tended to normalise symptoms and the cardiac event, and reported less negative mood symptoms than other groups. Fear of physical exertion, particularly heavy lifting, persisted across the groups. Some people across all ethnic groups indicated the need for more psychological therapy postcardiac event. Socioeconomic circumstances, age and prior work status appeared to be more important in relation to adaptation after a cardiac event than ethnic status. Conclusions: Heterogeneity in views and experiences related to the socioeconomic background, age and work status of the participants along with some cultural influences. Rehabilitation programmes should be flexibly tailored for individuals in particular and where relevant, specific support should be provided for returning to work.

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BMJ Open

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Project No. 83. PI: Mimi Bhattacharyya