Cost Savings Adds to Value of Preventing Chronic Disease

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure improves the lives of older Americans and also reduces medical costs, study findings show.

Researchers looked at a group of 51- and 52-year-olds from across the nation and projected their future state of health and medical costs if they could avoid developing certain chronic diseases. In a 51-year-old, prevention of obesity would extend life by 0.85 years, preventing high blood pressure would give them an additional 2.05 years, and by avoiding diabetes they would gain 3.17 years. People aged 51 and 52 who quit smoking would gain 3.44 more years of life, the study authors noted in a news release from the American Public Health Association.

Prevention of these conditions also would have lower lifetime medical costs for the individual: Preventing obesity would save $7,168; preventing high blood pressure would save $13,702; and preventing diabetes would save $34,483. However, the lifetime medical costs for a person who quits smoking would be $15,959 higher, the researchers noted in the news release.

"Our data indicate that primary prevention could improve the health and longevity of future cohorts of elderly persons in the United States at a relatively low cost," the researchers concluded.

The study by Dana Goldman, of RAND Corp., and colleagues appears in the Sept. 17 online edition and in the November print issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

More information

The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has more about healthy aging.

SOURCE: American Public Health Association, news release, Sept. 17, 2009

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