Seven Simple Heart-Healthy Habits That Could Save The US $41 BILLION In Healthcare Costs
- In 2016, the American Heart Association released seven tips for a healthy heart
- The University of Alabama studied how many adults 65 and older followed them
- Only 6.4 percent of adults followed between five and seven of the steps
- Those who followed heart-healthy factors spent $5,000 less in healthcare costs, and researchers say we could reduce costs by up to $41 billion
These seven heart-healthy steps could save billions of dollars in healthcare costs, a new report claims.
The US could save more than $41 billion a year in Medicare costs if Americans followed measures to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers found.
The American Heart Association released Life’s Simple 7 in September 2016 – a list of seven heart-healthy habits to lower your risk of heart disease.
And now, new research by the University of Alabama has laid bare how beneficial these small lifestyle tweaks could be, for individuals’ health and the nation’s coffers.
With about 610,000 people dying of heart disease in the US very year – one in every four deaths – scientists are rushing to figure out ways to decrease the ballooning number before it’s too late.
Life’s Simple 7, from the American Heart Association, is a composite measure of seven modifiable heart-healthy factors: cigarette smoking, physical activity, diet, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels.
Researchers estimated the annual financial impact if people followed the seven steps by using one year of follow-up data from the Reasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study – which looks at risk factors for stroke in adults aged 45 and older.
But researchers focused on 6,000 adults over age 65 on Medicare with no prior history of cardiovascular disease.
Participants received scores of either zero to one, two to four, or five to seven
For the seven steps recommended, researchers found that only 6.4 percent of participants were achieving ideal levels for five to seven heart-healthy habits
Additionally, the researchers found that those with fewer than five of the heart-healthy measures accounted for over half of all inpatient costs each year.
Meanwhile total healthcare expenditures were over $5,000 less for participants with the most ideal heart-healthy factors.
Therefore, the researchers say the potential annual cost reduction per year could amount to $41.2 billion.
Lead author Dr Kristal Aaron, of the University of Alabama in Birmingham, told Daily Mail Online: ‘This does show there is a large room for improvement across the seven factors to increase our heart health.
‘And it can be done through policy initiatives such as those for quitting smoking, for example, or through us by going to regular check-ups and checking our blood sugar levels.’
Dr Aaron added that those who are 65 older may not be able to hit all seven of the factors, but that putting in a great deal of effort in just a few of the steps made more of an impact than little effort in all of them.
The next step of research Dr Aaron says she would like to focus on is whether one factor of the Simple 7 holds more weight than the others.
She said: ‘In the end, as we age, if we work on these factors, this will ensure that we have the best quality of life.’
LIFE’S SIMPLE 7 STEPS
1. Manage blood pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Healthy ranges of blood pressure reduce strain on the heart, arteries, and kidneys keeping you healthier longer.
2. Control cholesterol
High cholesterol contributes to plaque, which can clog arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke. Controlling cholesterol allows the arteries the best chance to remain clear of blockages.
3. Reduce blood sugar
The majority of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or blood sugar, that our bodies convert into energy. Over time, however, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.
4. Get active
Living an active life is not only important to maintain when you have a heart condition, but it can help you avoid further heart problems by managing risk factors like high blood pressure and being overweight. Simply put, daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life.
5. Eat better
A healthy diet is one of the best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. Eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other high-fiber foods provide you with nutrients and help you maintain cholesterol levels.
6. Lose weight
When you shed extra fat and unnecessary pounds, you reduce the burden on a number of organs including your heart, lungs, blood vessels and even your skeleton.
7. Stop smoking
Cigarette smokers are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease than non-smokers and also make them to age quickly as there will be wrinkles on their faces . Coronary heart disease can occur if plaque builds up in the coronary arteries. When combined with other risk factors – such as unhealthy blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and being overweight or obese – smoking further raises the risk of heart disease.