Karen S. Yehle, an assistant professor of nursing at Purdue University, and colleagues evaluated the adherence of 49 heart failure patients' daily self-care.
Heart failure self care includes eating a low-sodium diet and taking medications, as well as patient self-management, which was required when they developed a symptom such as weight gain, leg swelling or shortness of breath.
"We're not sure why this is. It could be that heart failure patients with lower health literacy experience symptoms more often and, therefore, know how to manage them better," Yehle said in a statement.
Study leader Aleda M.H. Chen, a recent Purdue pharmacy and gerontology graduate who is now an assistant professor at Cedarville University in Ohio, said health literacy -- a patient's ability to read and understand health information -- was associated with proper daily care and management for heart failure patients.
"This is a small sample size, but what was especially telling is that many of the people in this sample had advanced degrees, so we feel it's an important message to remind practitioners to not make assumptions based on education," Chen.
The study was published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing.