Heart Disease: Prevention Saves Lives, Cuts Costs

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Fortunately, healthy lifestyle choices and preventive care  can save lives and cut healthcare costs, according to our new study published today in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a medical journal from the American Heart Association.

The study — Cardiovascular Risk Profile Is Associated With Lower Healthcare Costs and Resource Utilization: The 2012 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey — was presented today at American Heart Association’s EPI/Lifestyle Scientific Sessions, a medical conference.

Cardiovascular Disease 101: Emotional Costs, Financial Costs

Cardiovascular disease includes coronary artery disease, stroke, peripheral artery disease, dysrhythmias, or heart failure. Our study shows that average healthcare annual expenditure was highest for those who had cardiovascular disease and a poor or high-risk profile for the disease. Risk profile is based on lifestyle choices such as smoking status, diet and weight.

Highest annual costs: $14,157 in related medical costs for those with cardiovascular disease and high-risk profile.
Lowest annual costs: $3,998 annual average healthcare costs for those who did not have cardiovascular disease and had an “optimal” (lowest-risk) profile.

Expenses related to cardiovascular disease represent 17 percent of overall national health expenditures. Overall, $320 billion are attributed annually to direct costs of, and loss of productivity due to cardiovascular disease. During the next 15 years, cardiovascular disease costs are projected to triple.

Here are the numbers:
• One-in-three deaths is attributed to cardiovascular disease, the American Heart Association reports.
• Nearly 800,000 deaths a year are linked to heart diseases and strokes.
• By 2030, almost half of the U.S. population is expected to be diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.

Lifestyle Factors

Several studies have linked a “favorable cardiovascular risk profile” with a significant reduction in the risk of  cardiovascular disease events and mortality.

The American Heart Association’s Strategic Impact Goals statement calls for individuals and society to emphasize wellness and prevention. Examples of wellness campaigns include: the Million Hearts Initiative designed to limit or eliminate tobacco use, encouraging active lifestyle with a focus on obesity. These prevention steps will help to reduce hypertension, promote healthy cholesterol levels and prevent diabetes.

Focus on Prevention 

Results from our analysis support the focus on prevention, as well as expansion of screening and counseling for modifiable cardiovascular risks, which are lifestyle factors that individuals can control through healthier choices. These efforts can play a critical role in containing healthcare costs and improving patient health.

About the Author:

dr nasirKhurram Nasir, M.D., MPH, principal investigator of the study, is the medical director of the Center for Healthcare Advancement and Outcomes at Baptist Health South Florida.

Study Co-authors:
Javier Valero-Elizondo, M.D., MPH (lead author of the study); Joseph A. Salami, MD, MPH; Oluseye Ogunmoroti, M.D., MPH; Chukwuemeka U. Osondu, MD, MPH; Ehimen C. Aneni, MD, MPH; Rehan Malik, MD; Erica S. Spatz, MD, MHS; Jamal S. Rana, MD, PhD; Salim S. Virani, MD, PhD; Ron Blankstein, MD; Michael J. Blaha, MD, MPH;  and Emir Veledar, PhD.

Study methodology

The study population was derived from the 2012 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a nationally representative adult sample. Direct costs were calculated for all-cause health care resource utilization. Variables of interest included cardiovascular disease diagnoses (coronary artery disease, stroke, peripheral artery disease, dysrhythmias or heart failure). Other variables included, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, smoking, physical activity and/or obesity. The final study sample consisted of 15,651 participants, 40 years and older; 52 percent were women.

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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