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Eur J Heart Fail. 2005 Mar 16;7(3):363-9.

The crucial role of patient education in heart failure.

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Department of Cardiology, Heart Centre, Linköping University Hospital, Sweden.



Deterioration of heart failure causes and complicates many hospital admissions in people aged over 65 years. Frequent readmissions cause an immense burden on the individual, the family and the health care system. Heart failure management programmes, in which patient education is an important component, have been shown to be effective in improving self-care and reducing readmissions.


This paper reviews the literature on the education of patients with heart failure. The paper addresses the level of knowledge in patients with heart failure, barriers to learning, learning needs, educational methods, goals and how the effects of patient education can be evaluated.


Many patients had low levels of knowledge and lacked a clear understanding of heart failure and self-care. Educational interventions need to be designed specifically for elderly patients and need to target barriers to learning such as functional and cognitive limitations, misconceptions, low motivation and self-esteem. Health care professionals need to be skilled in assessing the requirements and level of education given to the individual. New technologies such as computer-based education and telemonitoring can be used as tools to improve the education. Patient education is an important component of heart failure care and should be provided through effective and well-evaluated strategies.

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