Health literacy (HL) is an important decision factor for health. Both low HL and low physical function cause adverse events in cardiovascular disease patients, but their relationship is not well documented. To clarify the relationship between HL and physical function of patients participating in cardiac rehabilitation and calculate the cutoff value of the 14-item HL scale (HLS) for low handgrip strength, this multicenter clinical study named the Kobe-Cardiac Rehabilitation project for people around the World (K-CREW) was conducted among four affiliated hospitals with patients who underwent cardiac rehabilitation. We used the 14-item HLS to assess HL, and the main outcomes were handgrip strength and Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) score. The study included 167 cardiac rehabilitation patients with a mean age of 70.5 ± 12.8 years, and the ratio of males was 74%. Among them, 90 patients (53.9%) had low HL and scored significantly lower in both handgrip strength and SPPB. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed that HL was a determinant factor (β = 0.118, p = 0.04) for handgrip strength. Receiver operating characteristic analysis revealed the cutoff value of the 14-item HLS for screening for low handgrip strength was 47.0 points, and the area under the curve was 0.73. This study showed that HL was significantly associated with handgrip strength and SPPB in cardiac rehabilitation patients and suggests the possibility of early screening for low HL to improve physical function in cardiac rehabilitation patients with low HL.
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