Cardiovascular disease-related costs may double to $1.1 trillion by 2035

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By 2035, an estimated 45 percent of the U.S. population could have cardiovascular disease, and the costs associated with the condition could nearly double from today to $1.1 trillion, according to a new report.

RTI International, a nonprofit organization based in North Carolina, conducted the study for the American Heart Association (AHA). The study was published online on Feb. 14.

The authors defined cardiovascular disease as coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation and other heart diseases.

The authors estimated that cardiovascular disease-related costs could reach $1.1 trillion in 2035, including $749 billion in medical costs and $368 billion in indirect costs due to lost productivity. In 2015, cardiovascular disease-related costs were $555 billion, including $318 billion in medical costs and $237 billion in indirect costs due to lost productivity.

Direct medical costs included money spent on medical services such as a physician, hospital or healthcare systems as well as follow-up costs such as prescription drugs, home health or nursing home care. Indirect medical costs include days of work lost by employed individuals due to cardiovascular disease, home productivity loss and work loss among people who are too sick to work as well as the value of lost earnings and household productivity from premature death due to cardiovascular disease.

The $749 billion in projected medical costs for 2035 include $215 billion for coronary heart disease, $154 billion for high blood pressure, $94 billion for stroke, $55 billion for atrial fibrillation, $45 billion for congestive heart failure and $187 billion for other heart diseases.

The $368 billion in estimated indirect medical costs for 2035 include $151 billion for coronary heart disease, $67 billion for high blood pressure, $49 billion for stroke, $11 billion for atrial fibrillation, $19 billion for congestive heart failure and $71 billion for other heart diseases.

In addition, an estimated 131.2 million people in the U.S. (45 percent of the population) will have cardiovascular disease by 2035, up from 102.7 million (41.5 percent) in 2015.

Between 2015 and 2035, the report said an additional 27.1 million Americans will have high blood pressure, an additional 7.2 million will have coronary heart disease, an additional 3.7 million will have stroke, an additional three million will have congestive heart failure and an additional two million will have atrial fibrillation.

The authors noted that the heart-related mortality rate in the U.S. declined by an annual average of 3.7 percent between 2000 and 2011. During that same time period, the stroke mortality rate decreased by an average of 4.5 percent per year.

However, since 2011, cardiovascular disease mortality rates have declined an average of less than 1 percent per year. In 2015, the heart disease mortality rate increased by 1 percent, the first annual increase since 1969.

The report added that stroke and heart failure were the most expensive chronic conditions in the Medicare fee-for-service program. Although heart disease accounts for 23 percent of deaths and stroke account for 4 percent of deaths in the U.S., the AHA noted that the National Institutes for Health invests 4 percent of its budget on heart disease research, 1 percent on stroke research and 2 percent on other cardiovascular disease research.

“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,” AHA President Steven Houser, PhD, said in a news release. “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.”