Aims and objectives: To explore patient decision delay, the symptom experience and factors that motivated the patient experiencing myocardial infarction to go to the emergency department. Background: Reperfusion for myocardial infarction is more effective if performed as soon as possible after the onset of symptoms. Multiple studies show that prehospital delay is long and can average several hours. Design: A qualitative descriptive design using semi-structured interviews. Methods: All consecutive myocardial infarction patients who between July 2013-January 2014 at a single-centre metropolitan tertiary hospital in Western Australia were included. Patient responses to an open-ended question were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed using Braun & Clarke (Qual Res Psychol, 3, 2006, 77-101) thematic analysis method. Results: Of the 367 eligible, 255 provided consent. Three themes emerged from the qualitative analyses: (1) onset and response to symptoms, and this included three subthemes: context of the event, diversity of symptom interpretation and response to symptoms; (2) help-seeking behaviour, and this included the patient seeking help from various lay and professional sources; and (3) help-seeking outcomes, which include calling the emergency ambulance, going to emergency department, seeing a general practitioner, seeing a general practitioner who advised them to go home. Conclusion: The context of the event, their symptomatology and the layperson who was the first point of contact influenced the decision for the patient to go to the emergency department. Many patients used private transport or contacted their general practitioner. New knowledge from this study emphasises the importance of the layperson understanding the appropriate response is to seek prompt care through immediate emergency transport by ambulance to emergency department. Relevance to clinical practice: This study highlights the need to educate both the patient and the wider public, not only to seek prompt care but to also to call the emergency ambulance to arrange transport to the emergency department.