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Counseling May Not Help Heart Failure Patients Comply With Rx
Date:9/22/2010

d disease-management advice, such as how to read ingredient labels; tips for coping with stress, such as deep breathing; tricks for remembering to take pills; and the importance of talking about heart failure with family and friends, the idea being that social supports help in making and maintaining lifestyle changes, Powell said.

Over two to three years of follow-up, 163 people (40.1 percent) were hospitalized for heart failure or died in the self-management counseling group vs. 171 (41.2 percent) of those who received reading materials alone.

In addition, no significant differences were noted in hospitalizations for any cause, quality of life, blood pressure or body mass index .

In patients with congestive heart failure, the heart no longer pumps enough blood to meet the body's needs for blood and oxygen. Common causes include coronary artery disease, past heart attacks, atrial fibrillation and hypertension, according to the American Heart Association.

Medication can help control symptoms, which include fatigue, shortness of breath and swollen feet and ankles. And lifestyle changes can help keep the condition from worsening, experts say.

Yet many patients don't heed their doctor's instructions. Previous research has shown 30 to 60 percent of patients don't take medications as prescribed, while 50 to 80 percent don't make the lifestyle changes needed, according to background information in the study.

"Adherence to medications and lifestyle changes for heart failure are atrocious," Powell said. "When you get to people of lower socioeconomic status, the rates of non-adherence are the highest."

Dr. Gregg Fonarow, American Heart Association spokesman and professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the study is well done, but the findings should not be interpreted to mean nothing can be done to help people manage heart failure.

Other research has shown that more intensive interventions, incl
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