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Preventing heart disease could greatly benefit economy and job market, study finds

Prioritizing heart health could allow consumers to remain employed

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Photo (c) Brian Jackson - Fotolia
Experts continue to highlight the risks associated with heart disease. While staying informed is one key to better heart health, a new study conducted by researchers from the European Society of Cardiology is looking at how the prevention of heart disease could lead to several societal benefits. 

The researchers say that preventing even just 10 percent of coronary heart disease cases could help keep consumers employed and subsequently save billions of dollars in related costs. 

“Economic evaluations of disease typically focus on the cost for healthcare systems,” said researcher Feby Savira, PhD. “Our study examined how much money could be saved by preventing heart disease, thereby enabling people to remain in work.” 

Adopting healthier habits

To better understand how preventing heart disease could be beneficial for both consumers and the economy, the researchers analyzed health records for Australian workers between the ages of 15 and 69. Using a productivity-adjusted life year (PALY) model, they were able to see how heart disease affected the participants’ productivity as they aged. 

Based on their findings, they estimated that roughly 300,000 people would develop heart disease. The researchers explained that these diagnoses greatly affect consumers’ productivity, including how well they’re able to do their jobs, how often they’re able to show up to work, or if they’re able to work at all. According to their findings, more than 65 percent of people with heart disease are forced to retire early. 

However, based on their findings, taking steps to prevent heart disease can be greatly beneficial. They found that preventing just 10 percent of cases would lead to a huge boost in productivity, resulting in more consumers holding onto their jobs and generating billions of dollars worth of savings. 

“Even preventing just 10 percent of future coronary heart disease cases (equivalent to 2,860 new cases per year over 10 years) could result in A$2 billion (USD $1.5 billion) in monetary gains from improved productivity alone,” Dr. Savira said. “Our study demonstrates the strong financial incentive for the prevention of coronary heart disease to improve health and productivity among the working-age population.” 

Benefiting consumers and society

Moving forward, the researchers hope that those in positions of power do their part to help consumers adopt healthy habits that could prevent heart disease

“These findings demonstrate the profound impact of coronary heart disease on individuals, employers, and society,” Dr. Savira said. 

“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 percent of cardiovascular disease could be stopped by eliminating bad habits such as poor-quality diet, physical inactivity, and smoking.” 

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