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Adopting heart-healthy habits could save billions in Medicare costs



February 02, 2017
Area(s) of Interest: Patient Education Public Health 

More than $41 billion in Medicare costs could be saved each year if beneficiaries adopted five to seven of the healthy habits that have been proven to reduce heart disease, according to new research by the American Heart Association (AHA).

AHA says there are seven heart-healthy habits (Life’s Simple 7) that reduce cardiovascular risk—stopping cigarette smoking; increasing physical activity; eating a healthy diet; lowering body mass index; and controlling blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels.

Researchers estimated the annual financial impact of compliance with Life’s Simple 7 using one year of follow-up data from Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS), a national, population-based longitudinal study. They focused on Medicare claims for 6,262 beneficiaries over age 65 with fee-for-service coverage and no prior history of cardiovascular disease.

Researchers found that annual inpatient and outpatient health care expenditures were approximately $5,016 less for individuals with the most ideal heart-healthy factors when compared to those with the fewest. The study also found that participants with fewer than five of the heart-healthy measures accounted for more than half of all inpatient costs each year and about one-third of total outpatient claims.

According to the AHA study, only 6.4 percent of participants had five to seven ideal factors. The potential annualized cost reduction is $41.2 billion if all Medicare beneficiaries had five to seven of Life’s Simple 7 factors.

Click here to read the study.

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