Limited health literacy is highly prevalent in the US and is strongly associated with patient morbidity, mortality, healthcare use, and costs. This according to a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) that examined the fundamental relevance of health literacy to primary and secondary cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention. It presents the adverse associations of health literacy with CV risk factors, conditions, and treatments and suggests strategies that address barriers imposed by limited health literacy on the management and prevention of CVD. Among the statement’s highlights and conclusions:
- Limited health literacy is more prevalent among racial and ethnic minorities, older adults, and individuals with less education.
- Language and cultural barriers may interfere with health care delivery.
- Multifaceted interventions that incorporate patients, providers and health systems are essential to address health literacy barriers and promote patient empowerment and success with long-term hypertension management.
- Health literacy related to stroke signs and symptoms remain poor, with low recognition of cardinal stroke symptoms and awareness of acute treatments.
- Adequate health literacy is associated with a higher level of understanding about medications and lifestyle modifications in populations with diabetes and congestive heart failure.
Magnani JW, Mujahid MS, Aronow HD, et al. Health literacy and cardiovascular disease: Fundamental relevance to primary and secondary prevention. A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. [Published online ahead of print June 4, 2018]. Circulation. doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000579.