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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.

Selected Research

Intensive Medical Care and Cardiovascular Disease Disability Reductions
David M. Cutler, Mary Beth Landrum, Kate A. Stewart, NBER, 5-1-06

Cutler and his colleagues offer evidence here for how improvements in the treatment of cardiovascular disease in recent decades have helped America's seniors remain healthier well into their golden years.

There is little empirical evidence to explain why disability declined among the elderly over the past 20 years. In this paper, we explore the role of improved medical care for cardiovascular disease on health status improvements over time. We show that the incidence of cardiovascular disease hospitalizations remained relatively constant between 1984 and 1999 at the same time that post-event survival improved and disability declined. We find that use of appropriate therapies, including pharmaceuticals such as beta-blockers, aspirin, and ace-inhibitors, and invasive procedures, explains up to 50% and 70% of the reductions in disability and death over time, respectively. Elderly patients living in regions with high use of appropriate medical therapies had better health outcomes than patients living in low-use areas. Finally, we estimate that preventing disability after an acute event can add as much as 3.7 years of quality-adjusted life expectancy, or $316,000 of value.


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