A new study projects that by 2035, cardiovascular disease, the most costly and prevalent killer, if left unchecked, will place a crushing economic and health burden on the nation’s financial and health care systems. According to the study, in the next two decades, the number of Americans with cardiovascular disease will rise to 131.2 million – 45 percent of the total U.S. population – with costs expected to reach $1.1 trillion.
The new projections are an update of those made by the association in 2011 that estimated around 100 million Americans would suffer from cardiovascular disease by 2030. In addition to the staggering human toll it takes on Americans’ lives and health, cardiovascular disease wreaks havoc on our economy.
Currently, cardiovascular disease is the costliest disease in our nation, with a price tag of $555 billion in 2016. Today’s study suggests that the economic burden of cardiovascular disease will only get worse. Specifically, the total cardiovascular disease costs across all conditions are projected to more than triple among those age 80 and more than double among those ages 65-79.
Direct medical costs related to cardiovascular disease will continue to rise, with costs expected to triple over the next 20 years for Hispanics, more than double among Blacks and be higher for women than men. Expenses associated with cardiovascular disease are expected to surpass medical cost estimates for other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
Indirect costs due to cardiovascular disease, or the costs related to lost productivity in the workplace and at home, are projected to be the highest for individuals age 45-64. On average, an employee with cardiovascular disease costs his or her employer nearly 60 hours and over $1,100 more in lost productivity per year than an employee without cardiovascular disease.
While white Americans face the highest indirect costs, the report stresses that Hispanics are expected to experience the largest relative increase in costs due to cardiovascular disease over the next 20 years.
To address the escalating burden highlighted in this report, the association recommends the following specific changes in federal policies: Increased funding for heart and stroke research by the National Institutes of Health Enhanced focus on prevention to improve and preserve population health from birth to old age Preservation and expansion of access to high-quality affordable health care Even though heart disease and stroke account for 23 percent and 4 percent of all deaths respectively, the NIH invests a meager 4 percent of its budget on heart disease research, a mere 1 percent on stroke research and only 2 percent on other cardiovascular disease research.
Prevention programs under the Affordable Care Act have enabled insured patients to obtain blood pressure and cholesterol screenings, smoking cessation services, behavioral counseling for obesity, as well as improved access to primary care and medications needed to help manage their diseases and reduce their risks. Retaining this emphasis on prevention and investments in it will be key to reducing health care costs moving forward. Finally, protections for patients with pre-existing conditions are vitally important for Americans who have or will develop cardiovascular disease.
“While we have made tremendous progress in fighting cardiovascular disease, recently reported death rates and these projections reinforce that now is not the time to relax,” said American Heart Association President Steven Houser, Ph.D., FAHA. “We must continue to be vigilant, because if these projections become reality, a serious health and economic crisis is on the horizon. The association welcomes the opportunity to work with Congress and the new administration to find ways to wipe out the burden of cardiovascular disease and build an improved culture of health in our country.”
Citation: Cardiovascular disease: a costly burden for America – projections through 2035. American Heart association CVD burden report. http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@adv/documents/downloadable/ucm_491543.pdf Accessed on 2017-2-14
Adapted from press release by RTI international.