News Perspectives

Low Health Literacy May Speed Heart Death

Heart-failure patients who have problems understanding medical instructions may die sooner than those with a firmer grasp of what they need to do, a study finds. Heart failure means that the heart's pumping action is weak. Treatment is complicated. People have to keep track of their weight. They often take many medicines. Heart failure can lead to repeat hospital stays and even death. The study included more than 1,300 people who had a recent hospital stay for heart failure. Before leaving, they filled out questionnaires on health literacy. They were asked about how well they could read and understand medical information. They also said how confident they felt about filling out medical forms. Researchers kept track of people for an average of 21 months.

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