Out-of-pocket expenses for chronic heart disease care inflict heavy financial burdens for low-income families; even those with insurance

Cumulative out-of-pocket expenses for the treatment of chronic heart disease led to significant financial burdens for low-income families, even for those with health insurance, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2018, a premier global exchange of the latest advances in quality of care and outcomes research in cardiovascular disease and stroke for researchers, healthcare professionals and policymakers.

The study focused on the effect of out-of-pocket health expenses for treating atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease on low-income families, defined as those with an income below 200 percent of the federal poverty limit. During the study period (2006-2015), that ranged from $20,000 to $24,250 per year for a family of four.

Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease is a group of conditions caused by atherosclerosis — a build-up of plaque that can harden and narrow the arteries and consequently result in a heart attack, stroke or death. It’s the leading cause of death, a major cause of disability and a major source of healthcare costs. The researchers defined high and catastrophic health expenses as out-of-pocket expenses of more than 20 percent and more than 40 percent of family income, respectively.

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Heart attack and stroke patients prescribed statin medication upon discharge have better outcomes

Patients with a prior history of heart attacks or stroke have better outcomes when cholesterol-lowering medications are used after they’re discharged from the hospital, according to a new study from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City.

Prior surveys in hospitals found that statins, a common medication prescribed to lower cholesterol, aren’t being used as consistently in patients who’ve been admitted to the hospital following a heart attack or stroke. Researchers also found that when the medication is prescribed, dosing is likely not as high as it should be to provide optimal benefits.

Researchers from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute examined more than 62,000 records of patients from the Intermountain Healthcare system between 1999 and 2013 who survived an initial atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease event , such as a heart attack or stroke. They were then followed for three years, or until death, to identify the effectiveness of statin use prescribed at the time of their discharge.

Full story at Science Daily