The high cost of heart attacks

The good news is that more people are surviving heart attacks due to improvements in treatment and the development of an early warning system; the bad news is that survival comes at a high cost.

The Heart Foundation has today detailed the economic cost to the individual and to the economy of acute coronary syndrome (ACS), which includes heart attack and unstable angina, with cardiac arrests on average claiming one Australian almost every hour.

Average out-of-pocket expenses in the 12 months following a heart attack were $3100, according to the report, The Economic Cost of Acute Coronary Syndrome in Australia: The Cost to Individuals and Their Families.

The total economic cost of heart attacks in 2017–18 was $6.8 billion, the Heart Foundation report said, with healthcare costs, including hospital stays, put at $1.9 billion and loss of income at $3.5 billion.

The average cost to an individual and his or her family over a lifetime was $68,000.

Heart Foundation National chief executive Adjunct Professor John Kelly said: “These figures are concerning as more than 1.4 million Australians are at high risk of having their first heart attack or stroke in the next five years.

“Preventing heart attacks and strokes from happening in the first place and improving outcomes for those who have these life-threatening heart events needs to be a high priority for all governments and the community.

“A heart attack is not a one-off event. It’s a life-changer, with long-term after-effects. The average cost of a heart attack to an individual and their family over a lifetime is $68,000. This includes lost income, out-of-pocket expenses like rehabilitation and medication, and informal care from family and friends, such as the time taken to provide basic nursing.”

Meanwhile, world-first research led by the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute has shown that it may be possible to both identify those at risk of a heart attack and prevent one from occurring.

Researchers have shown that a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, after the injection of a chemical probe, can be used to identify the presence of dangerous plaques in coronary arteries.

Professor Stocker, Head of Vascular Biology, said: “We now have the potential tools to specifically identify those at high risk of heart attack by using non-invasive MRI to detect vascular inflammation.

“Aside from leading a healthy lifestyle, this ‘early warning system’ could be our best defence against heart attacks, many of which may be fatal.”

Do healthcare costs worry you? Do you have a plan in place for a health scare?

Related articles:
Don’t ignore these heart attack signs
Listen up when your body is talking
Blood type linked to heart attacks

Written by Janelle Ward

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