Stroke Costs Reaching Trillions
Without Action, Financial Cost of Strokes to Reach $2.2 Trillion by 2050
WebMD News Archive
Aug. 16, 2006 -- The financial cost of strokes in the U.S. will soar to more
than $2.2 trillion over the next 45 years if no action is taken to improve
preventive care or treatment, according to a new study.
Researchers say much of the bill for those stroke-related costs will
be for black and Latino stroke patients, who tend to suffer from strokes at an
earlier age and receive poorer preventive care.
In fact, about half of the stroke-related costs by 2050 -- including
treatment, rehabilitation, and lost wages -- will come from stroke victims
under the age of 65.
Researchers say the $2.2 trillion economic burden is actually a conservative
estimate because it is based on current rates of the conditions that put people
at risk for stroke, such as diabetes, heart
disease, and obesity, which are
currently on the rise.
"Doing the right thing now ultimately could be cost-saving in the
future, but we have a long way to go before all Americans receive adequate
stroke prevention and emergency stroke care," says researcher Devin Brown,
MD, MS, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Michigan Medical
School, in a news release. "If our society is not going to do it for the
right reasons, perhaps we can do it because it's going to be obscenely
Stroke is currently the third leading cause of death in the U.S. About
700,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year, and 157,000 die from strokes.
Cost of Strokes Soaring
In the study, published in Neurology, researchers estimated the
future economic burden of the most common type of stroke, ischemic stroke, from
2005 to 2050. Ischemic strokes account for 80% of all strokes and are caused by
a clot or clogged blood vessel that blocks blood flow in the brain.
Researchers estimated both direct stroke costs, such as ambulance services,
hospitalization, rehabilitation, nursing home costs, and drugs, as well as
indirect costs like lost wages for stroke patients under 65. Studies show
nearly half of stroke survivors under the age of 65 do not return to work.
The total cost of stroke for the next 45 years was projected to be $1.5
trillion for non-Hispanic whites, $313 billion for Hispanics, and $379 billion
Minorities Face Greater Stroke Costs
The total per patient cost was highest for blacks ($25,782), followed by
Hispanics ($17,201) and whites ($15,597). Lost wages was the biggest
contributor to stroke cost among all races.
"Because members of the two largest minority groups have their strokes
earlier than non-Hispanic whites, the impact of lost earnings is greater than
non-Hispanic whites per capita," says Brown.
For example, only 2% of whites under the age of 65 are estimated to have a
stroke, compared with 2.3% of Hispanics and 4.8% of blacks. Researchers say
differences in risk factors (obesity, diabetes, and heart disease), genetics
and health care may account for much of this difference.
In addition, minority groups are expected to account for a much larger
proportion of the population by the year 2050. Latinos currently make up 13% of
the U.S. population and are expected to increase to 25% by 2050, and blacks are
expected to grow from 12% to 14% of the national population by 2050.