Heart Disease & Heart Failure

The Impact of Low Health Literacy on Heart Disease

Health literacy is the ability of patients and the general public to understand health information. This includes information told to patients by healthcare professionals or given to them in writing. Health literacy is important because an understanding of health information is necessary in order for patients and their families to make appropriate and informed healthcare decisions.

Health literacy directly impacts the quality of life of all Americans. The Agency for Health Care Research and Quality reports that people who do not understand their medical condition or the health information shared with them use more health resources. Such patients visit the emergency room more often and have a greater risk for hospitalization. These additional healthcare costs are responsible for an estimated 100-200 billion dollars spent annually in the US.

Self-care is important to the management of heart disease. For this reason, understanding your medical condition may have a significant impact on your health. Health literacy is a critical component of improving your health. Be proactive and increase your health literacy to improve your own health.


Here are some tips to improve health literacy:

  • Prepare for your doctor’s appointment.
  • Review the doctor discussion guide.
  • Bring a written list of questions to your appointment and ask them.
  • Write down the answers to your questions or record the answers so you can review them later.
  • Bring a list of current medications and any other information you think the doctor should know.
  • Ask for a person (name and phone number) you can contact with questions you might have after your appointment.
  • Use reputable print and digital resources to educate yourself about healthy lifestyle choices and your specific medical condition(s).


Next Steps:

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