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Preventing heart disease would keep people employed

Tuesday September 29th 2020

Preventative strategies that delay the onset of coronary heart disease would keep people in employment and save nearly 15 US billion dollars, according to a new Australian study.

Research published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology examined how much money could be saved by preventing heart disease, which accounts for about one third of all deaths in people over 35.

People with coronary heart disease have more days of absenteeism from work and are less productive while at work compared to the general population, while those with the disease are also more likely to retire early.

Study author Ms Feby Savira, a PhD student at Monash University, Melbourne, and colleagues used the productivity-adjusted life year (PALY) to construct a model for the total Australian working-age population, aged 15–69 years over 10 years, separated by coronary heart disease status.

They predicted more than 290,000 new coronary heart disease cases over the next 10 years, but if those cases were prevented, more than 4,000 deaths could be averted, which would result in more than 8,000 years of life saved and 104,000 PALYs gained.

They went on to estimate the economic impact of stopping future cases of coronary heart disease in Australia between 2020 and 2029 at almost $22 Aus billion – $15 US billion – in GDP due to reductions in coronary heart disease-related deaths, and increased productivity.

This equates to almost A$75,000 (USD $51,000) for every case avoided, say the researchers.

Even preventing 10% of future coronary heart disease cases – equivalent to 2,860 new cases per year over 10 years – could result in $2 Aus billion (USD $1.5 billion) in monetary gains from improved productivity alone, say the research team.

Early retirement because of coronary heart disease accounted for 65.4% of the estimated loss in productivity, while 20.3% was due to presenteeism, while absenteeism accounted for 8.4% and premature death 5.9%. Men contributed 62% to the total loss of productivity due to coronary heart disease.

“Our study demonstrates the strong financial incentive for the prevention of coronary heart disease to improve health and productivity among the working-age population,” said Ms Savira.

“These findings demonstrate the profound impact of coronary heart disease on individuals, employers and society. Employers can establish healthy workplaces, for example by providing group exercise classes, and healthy food and beverage options.

“There is plenty each of us can do to protect our health and livelihood: it is estimated that 80% of cardiovascular disease could be stopped by eliminating bad habits such as poor-quality diet, physical inactivity, and smoking.”

Savira F, Wang BH, Kompa AR, et al. The impact of coronary heart disease prevention on work productivity: a 10-year analysis. Eur J Prev Cardiol 29 September 2020; doi: 10.1093/eurjpc/zwaa037.

Tags: Australia | Diet & Food | Fitness | Heart Health

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