Most of us are aware that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US – and globally. But did you know that one in three Americans (36.9 percent) have some form of heart disease, including high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke and other conditions. By 2030, approximately 116 million people in the United States (40.5 percent) will have some form of cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association predicts treatment costs could triple in the next 20 years, from $273 billion to $818 billion (in 2008 US dollar values), if effective prevention strategies are not developed.
In a study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association researchers estimated future medical costs based on the current rates of disease using Census data to adjust for anticipated population shifts in age and race. Patients with multiple heart conditions were not double counted, adding to the rigor of the study.
At present heart disease accounts for 17 percent of national health expenditure.
“Despite the successes in reducing and treating heart disease over the last half century, even if we just maintain our current rates, we will have an enormous financial burden on top of the disease itself,” said Paul Heidenreich, M.D., chair of the expert panel issuing the statement.
The largest increases are anticipated in stroke (up 24.9 percent) and heart failure (up 25 percent).
“Unhealthy behaviors and unhealthy environments have contributed to a tidal wave of risk factors among many Americans,” said Nancy Brown, American Heart Association CEO. “Early intervention and evidence-based public policies are absolute musts to significantly reduce alarming rates of obesity, hypertension, tobacco use and cholesterol levels.”
Lost productivity, such as absenteeism due to illness and potential lost earnings due to premature death, is another cost of heart disease, increasing from an estimated $172 billion in 2010 to $276 billion in 2030.