AHA: Limited Health Literacy Is Barrier to Cardiovascular Care

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Health literacy has a prominent role in the primary and secondary prevention of CVD.
Health literacy has a prominent role in the primary and secondary prevention of CVD.

HealthDay News — Limited health literacy is a barrier to cardiovascular health and prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association published online June 4 in Circulation.

James Magnani, M.D., from the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues summarized the contemporary science of CVD and health literacy in order to enhance the knowledge and awareness of health care professionals.

The authors note that health literacy has a prominent role in the primary and secondary prevention of CVD. Health literacy has been related to recognition and knowledge of hypertension; more than half of individuals with inadequate health literacy were unable to recognize an abnormal blood pressure reading. Furthermore, individuals with limited health literacy have increased risk of not achieving guideline-based blood pressure recommendations. Health literacy has also been associated with outcomes of glucose control and microvascular complications and to adherence to diabetes mellitus and non-diabetes mellitus medications. Educational interventions using health literacy-focused strategies can have a positive impact on medication adherence and on diet and body mass index. Individuals with limited health literacy are twice as likely to perceive their overweight children as normal weight; they are also more likely to suffer relapse after smoking cessation programs. Use of the Universal Precautions Toolkit, which provides strategies for communication, is recommended for improving quality of care.

"We owe it to our patients to ensure that they fully understand their conditions and treatments," Magnani said in a statement.

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