April 25, 2013
Health Group Warns Heart Failure Treatment Costs Will More Than Double By 2030
April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The American Heart Association (AHA) issued a statement this week that predicts the number of people with heart failure could rise 46 percent — from 5 million in 2012 to 8 million in 2030 — and that the direct and indirect costs to treat heart failure could more than double -- from $31 billion in 2012 to $70 billion in 2030. This means every US taxpayer could be paying $244 a year to care for heart failure patients by 2030. The statement was published online in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure.
“If we don´t improve or reduce the incidence of heart failure by preventing and treating the underlying conditions, there will be a large monetary and health burden on the country,” said Paul A. Heidenreich, MD, MS, a professor of medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine.
“The costs will be paid for by every adult in this country, not just every adult with heart failure,” said Heidenreich, who is also director of the Chronic Heart Failure Quality Enhancement Research Initiative at the VA Health Care System in Palo Alto, California.
The aging population and an increase in the number of patients with conditions that contribute to the development of heart failure, like ischemic heart disease, hypertension and diabetes, drive this dramatic increase. Other risk factors include older age, smoking, being a minority or poor.
“Awareness of risk factors and adequately treating them is the greatest need,” Heidenreich said in a statement.
For Americans over 65, heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalization. Such patients often have breathing problems and are fatigued, as their heart enlarges and pumps harder and faster to meet the body's needs. Heart failure, which can be fatal, occurs when the heart has been weakened from heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or some other underlying condition; and the heart is no longer able to pump enough oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood throughout the body.
“Heart failure is a disease of the elderly,” Heidenreich said. “Because our population is aging, it will become more common and the cost to treat heart failure will become a significant burden to the United States over the next 20 years unless something is done to reduce the age-specific incidence.”
The AHA statement included recommendations for lessening the impact of heart failure, and for managing the rising number of US citizens with the condition. The recommendations include items such as:
- The "use of guideline-recommended therapy" for prevention and to improve survival rates.
- "Improving the coordination of care from hospital to home" in order to reduce the number of hospitalizations.
- Further specialized training for health care professionals.
- "Reducing disparities for heart failure prevention and care among racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic subgroups."
- "Increasing access to palliative and hospice care."
“We have the solutions we need to change the course of heart failure in this country, but we must take steps now to reverse the trend,” said AHA CEO Nancy Brown. “If we treat patients using existing guidelines, improve care transitions, adequately train our healthcare workforce and reduce disparities in the health outcomes of specific populations, we can lessen the burdens of heart failure.”
“For those Americans in the last stages of heart failure, we must also increase access to palliative and hospice care to reduce the suffering of their final years,” she added.
Heidenreich did note that the statement does not examine the impact of the Affordable Care Act. If laws increase access to healthcare, the rates of heart failure and costs could decrease.