This is an archived article that was published on in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Intermountain Healthcare says its system for educating heart failure patients before they leave the hospital saves lives.

Patients given certain discharge information had better one-year, three-year and five-year survival rates than those without documented instructions, according to Intermountain.

Intermountain developed education information called Medications, Activity, Weight, Diet and Symptoms (MAWDS) for all of its 21 hospitals in Utah and Idaho. It teaches patients about taking their medications, staying active, tracking their weight, limiting sodium and monitoring their symptoms. They are given a self-care diary to help them track their progress.

Researchers tracked about 1,500 patients who received the MAWDS education from 2002 to 2004 and compared their survival to those who didn't. After controlling for age, gender, diagnosis, length of hospital stay and severity of illness, they found the five-year survival rate was 57 percent for those who were educated, compared to 49.6 percent for the other patients.

Whether the improvements were due to the education or larger efforts by the hospital to standardize care is unclear.

The results of the study were presented at the Heart Failure Society of America's annual scientific meeting in San Diego.

Heather May