-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, April 26 (HealthDay News) -- Heart failure patients
with low levels of "health literacy" are at increased risk of
hospitalization and death, a new study finds.
Health literacy refers to the ability to acquire, process and
understand basic health information and services required to make
appropriate health decisions, according to the Institute of
Medicine. Because chronic heart failure involves a large amount of
self-management, patients need an adequate level of health
literacy, explained the authors of the report published in the
April 27 issue of the
Journal of the American Medical Association.
In their study of nearly 1,500 heart failure patients, Dr.
Pamela N. Peterson, of the Denver Health Medical Center, and
colleagues found that 17.5 percent had low health literacy. These
patients tended to be older, poorer, less educated and more likely
to have other illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure,
chronic pulmonary disease and stroke.
During a median follow-up of 1.2 years, 124 study participants
died. That included nearly 18 percent of patients with low health
literacy and 6 percent of patients with adequate health literacy,
the researchers found.
In addition, during the follow-up period, nearly 31 percent of
patients with low health literacy were hospitalized compared to
about 23 percent of patients with adequate health literacy.
Routine assessment of health literacy may help identify heart
failure patients at increased risk for hospitalization and death,
the researchers suggested.
"This study demonstrates that even among those with health insurance and access to health information, low health literacy as assessed by three brief screening questions is associated with higher mortality. This finding supports efforts to determine whether interventions to screen for and address low health literacy can improve important health outcomes in patients with heart failure," Peterson and colleagues concluded.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has more about
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.