Low health literacy tied to worse heart failure outcomes

Poor health literacy is associated with worse heart failure outcomes, according to a review published in the June issue of JACC: Heart Failure.

Matteo Fabbri, M.D., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to evaluate associations between health literacy and health-related outcomes in patients with heart failure.

Based on 15 studies, the researchers found that an average of 24 percent of patients with heart failure had inadequate or marginal health literacy. There was an association between inadequate health literacy and higher unadjusted risk for mortality (risk ratio [RR], 1.67), hospitalizations (RR, 1.19), and emergency department visits (RR, 1.17). In an adjusted analysis, findings remained statistically significant for an association between health literacy and mortality (RR, 1.41) and hospitalizations (RR, 1.12). Two of four interventional studies effectively improved outcomes among patients with inadequate health literacy.

“These findings have important clinical and public health implications and warrant measurement of health literacy and deployment of interventions to improve outcomes,” the authors write.