|Selected research from leading health care experts whose findings have a direct bearing on public policies effecting medical progress. Research is chosen based on its quality and relevance by the Medical Progress Today editorial staff.||
The Impact of Antihypertensive Drugs on the Number and Risk of Death, Stroke and Myocardial Infarction in the United States
Is U.S. healthcare spending worth the price tag? Pundits like Dr. Gerber, as we noted above, tend to think that the U.S. is spends far too much to achieve far too little. But the answer to this questionthe value of spendingdepends critically on the variables being measured. The researchers in this NBER working paper present interesting evidence that U.S. healthcare spendingat least in certain disease categoriesproduces enormous healthcare value relative to expenditures.
In this research, we quantify the impact of antihypertensive therapy on U.S. blood pressures, risk and number of heart attacks, strokes, and deaths. We also consider the potential for further improvements. We estimate the value of innovation using equations relating blood pressure to adverse outcomes from the Framingham Heart Study.
What is the value of these health gains? The authors estimate "2002 total direct medical costs avoided due to fewer strokes and [myocardial infarction] of $10.7 billion and $5.8 billion, respectively" and that "including the impact of antihypertensive drugs on quality of life and work productivity would increase the benefit-cost ratio further."
Their research suggests that if we ignore gains from improved treatments, and blithely assume that lower spending leads linearly to lower total costs, we run the risk of actually hurting our economy and our health in the long run through short-sighted cost controls.
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