May 22, 2013
Economic Cost Of Strokes To Double In Coming Years
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the number of strokes in the US is expected to increase dramatically over the next 17 years, and the costs associated with this increase will more than double.
With a large portion of the US population about to enter a higher-risk age bracket, the shifting demographics could translate into an additional 3.4 million people suffering from a stroke by 2030, according to a statement from the association that was recently published in the journal Stroke.
Dr. Bruce Ovbiagele, chairman of the Department of Neurology at the Medical University of South Carolina and co-author of the AHA statement, said both the stroke itself and the resulting long-term care costs will heavily impact the American healthcare system.
“Strokes will absolutely strain the healthcare system,” Ovbiagele said in a statement. “Ninety percent of stroke patients have residual disability and only 10 percent recover completely after a stroke.”
“Policy makers at“¯all levels“¯of governance should be aware of this looming crisis so that we can consider practical ways to avert it,” he added.
Strokes are also expected to cost America over $20 billion per year in terms of slumping economic productivity, according to the AHA.
The fourth leading cause of death in America, a stroke occurs when the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain is interrupted, typically by a blood clot or blood vessel rupture. Brain cells quickly die after they stop receiving oxygen-rich blood.
“During every minute of delayed treatment, brain cells are dying,” Ovbiagele said. “EMS systems nationwide should take patients directly to a“¯designated stroke center“¯equipped to quickly diagnose and administer drugs to restore blood flow to the brain.”
According to the AHA, Hispanics“¯and“¯blacks“¯traditionally have higher incidences of stroke as well as worse outcomes following the event. The association said Hispanic men are expected to see the largest increase in stroke rate between now and 2030, while the cost of treating Hispanic women who suffer a stroke is expected to triple.
Individuals without insurance have a 24 percent to 56 percent greater risk of dying from stroke than those with insurance coverage. Stroke rates are particularly high among people between 45 and 64 years of age, Ovbiagele said. He added that these people are not old enough to receive Medicare, and therefore less able to afford medications and avoid potential risks factors like diabetes and obesity.
The Affordable Care Act, known colloquially as Obamacare, is expected to contribute to the coverage of an additional 32 million Americans. The act has also placed an emphasis on prevention and wellness.
According to the AHA, these consequences of Obamacare “should help reduce the number of strokes, deaths and related costs when the law is fully implemented in 2014.” The association noted that 86 million Americans are already receiving some type of risk-reducing preventative care under the new law.
“Expanding access to insurance coverage should improve access to primary care and the medications needed to control risk factors and help prevent stroke and to improve access to acute stroke treatment for those who were previously uninsured,” the statement added.