Improving Health Outcomes for Low Health Literacy Heart Failure Patients

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According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (2003), only 12% of U.S. adults have a proficient level of health literacy, with adults 65 years and older more likely to have a below basic or a basic health literacy level. An estimated 5.8 million individuals in the United States have heart failure (HF) and it is one of the most common reasons for those aged 65 and over to be hospitalized. Many patients with HF are at risk for poor health outcomes due to low health literacy. This article reviews the literature with regard to the effectiveness of methods used to address low health literacy among HF patients and describes a pilot study implemented by a home care agency in the northeast to address high HF readmission rates.

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