Background: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ perspectives of health and cultural wellbeing encapsulate the spiritual, social and environmental health of individuals, their communities and country. Strategies designed to reduce the cardiovascular burden of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people often fail to consider their unique knowledge and worldview.
Methods: This adapted, grounded theory study sought to explore Aboriginal women's views of cardiovascular protective and risk factors.
Results: Twenty-eight (28) women from five women's groups across Central and South Australia participated. Women distinguished the heart as core to their spiritual and physical wellbeing. Women identified six attributes that keep a woman's heart strong, four that can make the heart sick, and eight socio-ecological factors which affect a woman's capacity to care for their heart. Women described having a healthy heart when able to identify as Aboriginal women, being connected to family and community, having a healthy life and body, and being engaged in their health and health care.
Conclusions: There are gaps in the provision of cardiovascular risk assessment and management, gaps in the cultural safety of primary health care services, and gaps in the communication of the sex-specific warning signs of a heart attack, all of which must be addressed.