Patients with heart problems should receive personalized education to help them manage their conditions, according to a new American Heart Association (AHA) scientific statement.
The AHA also called for a multi-pronged approach and recommended that health information be tailored to a patient’s ability to understand it.
“As hospital stays and clinic visits get shorter, the responsibility for patient management has increasingly shifted to patients and their families,” said statement lead author Susan Barnason. She is a professor of nursing practice at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Lincoln.
“Patient education can’t be one-size-fits-all. It needs to meet the patients where they are, so clinicians need to assess their patients’ health literacy and cognitive skills, and include family and other caregivers when needed,” Barnason added in an AHA news release.
The AHA recommends a partnership between health care providers, patients and their families. For example, regular follow-up calls from a nurse for patients who have difficulty making healthy choices, or having dieticians or health coaches assist people in making lifestyle changes.
“Tell your provider if you don’t understand your condition or you are unclear about the plan to help you manage it. Your physician may schedule an extended or follow-up visit, or may ask the nurse to answer your immediate questions,” Barnason said.
Technology, such as phone apps, that enable patients to measure and monitor their blood pressure or track and remind them to take medications may help patients keep track of their health and share the results, according to the statement.
“We can’t make you take your pills or check your blood pressure or blood sugar. Some of the new technologies help it become more real — instead of just putting numbers on a piece of paper you can see the trends and get a better picture of how you’re doing,” Barnason said.
The statement was published June 19 in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
The American Heart Association has more on heart health.