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Poor health literacy poses risks for pacemaker and defibrillator patients
Date:8/18/2014

g and math comprehension, the Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults. The study population was ethnically diverse: 37.1 percent white, 39.7 percent Hispanic, and 22.4 percent African American; 77.4 percent of the population reported finishing high school. The average age of the study population was 68. Evaluations were done in English or Spanish. Almost 30 percent of participants had inadequate health literacy, and an additional 10 percent were marginal.

The study also examined literacy among patients with medical conditions that are common among patients with pacemakers and defibrillators. Individuals with hypertension or high cholesterol were more than twice as likely to have limited health literacy as individuals without those conditions. Diabetics were almost twice as likely to have low health literacy.

"The good news here is that people are living longer with these devices," Hickey says. "The problem is that co-morbidities like diabetes and hypertension can worsen with age, at the same time that cognitive function declines. This makes it more urgent, and more difficult, to improve health literacy."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define health literacy as the degree to which an individual has the ability to obtain, communicate, and comprehend basic health information and treatments to make appropriate decisions about care. Limited health literacy is associated with poorer health outcomes, higher rates of hospitalizations, increased use of the emergency department, improper use of medications, and higher health care costs.


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Contact: Lisa Rapaport
lr2692@cumc.columbia.edu
212-342-3795
Columbia University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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