Heart Disease Costs to Triple by 2030, Says AHA

Christine Leccese, for Health Leaders Media, February 1, 2011

Add heart disease treatment to the list of costs that are rising as a result of the aging baby boomer population. The cost of treating heart disease in the United States will likely triple over the next 20 years, according to research published in the Jan. 24 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. The United States will need to pony up an additional $545 billion between now and 2030 for heart disease-related costs, unless there are some drastic changes in heart disease prevention success, the article contends.

Researchers based their predictions on current disease rates, and used census data to project future disease rates as a result of population changes in age and race. The cost of medical care for heart disease will rise from $273 billion today to $818 billion in 2030, the authors predicted. Heart disease treatment and prevention currently account for 17% of health care expenditures in the U.S., so it already represents a significant chunk of the health care cost pie.

About 37% of Americans have some form of heart disease such as high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, heart failure, or stroke. Because of the predicted population changes, the AHA projects that number will rise to 40.5%. The organization believes that stroke and heart failure will represent the biggest increases at about 25% each.

Paul Heidenreich, MD, MS, FAHA, the lead author on the study, talked to Health Leaders about what this increase in cardiology patients will mean to hospital and practice leaders. "It will increase the need for cardiology services, which means more primary care providers seeing patients with heart disease and a greater demand for cardiology services," Heidenreich says. "Given that we are not training them at a fast enough pace at the moment, there will likely be a shortage and a difficulty in access to care."

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