More Americans Living Longer With Cardiovascular Disease Will Increase Costs While Lowering Quality Of Life
Author: Ankur Pandya, Thomas A. Gaziano, Milton C. Weinstein, David Cutler
In the past several decades, some risk factors for cardiovascular disease have improved, while others have worsened. For example, smoking rates have dropped and treatment rates for cardiovascular disease have increased—factors that have made the disease less fatal. At the same time, Americans’ average body mass index and incidence of diabetes have increased as the population continues to live longer—factors that have made cardiovascular disease more prevalent. To assess the aggregate impact of these opposing trends, we used the nine National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey waves from 1973 to 2010 to forecast total cardiovascular disease risk and prevalence from 2015 to 2030. We found that continued improvements in cardiovascular disease treatment and declining smoking rates will not outweigh the influence of increasing population age and obesity on cardiovascular disease risk. Given an aging population, an obesity epidemic, and declining mortality from the disease, the United States should expect to see a sharp rise in the health care costs, disability, and reductions in quality of life associated with increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease. Policies that target the treatment of high blood pressure and cholesterol and the reduction of obesity will be necessary to curb the imminent spike in cardiovascular disease prevalence.