Projected Costs of Informal Caregiving for Cardiovascular Disease: 2015 to 2035

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Abstract

Introduction:

In a recent report, the American Heart Association estimated that medical costs and productivity losses of cardiovascular disease (CVD) are expected to grow from $555 billion in 2015 to $1.1 trillion in 2035. Although the burden is significant, the estimate does not include the costs of family, informal, or unpaid caregiving provided to patients with CVD. In this analysis, we estimated projections of costs of informal caregiving attributable to CVD for 2015 to 2035.

Methods:

We used data from the 2014 Health and Retirement Survey to estimate hours of informal caregiving for individuals with CVD by age/sex/race using a zero-inflated binomial model and controlling for sociodemographic factors and health conditions. Costs of informal caregiving were estimated separately for hypertension, coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and other heart disease. We analyzed data from a nationally representative sample of 16 731 noninstitutionalized adults ≥54 years of age. The value of caregiving hours was monetized by the use of home health aide workers’ wages. The per-person costs were multiplied by census population counts to estimate nation-level costs and to be consistent with other American Heart Association analyses of burden of CVD, and the costs were projected from 2015 through 2035, assuming that within each age/sex/racial group, CVD prevalence and caregiving hours remain constant.

Results:

The costs of informal caregiving for patients with CVD were estimated to be $61 billion in 2015 and are projected to increase to $128 billion in 2035. Costs of informal caregiving of patients with stroke constitute more than half of the total costs of CVD informal caregiving ($31 billion in 2015 and $66 billion in 2035). By age, costs are the highest among those 65 to 79 years of age in 2015 but are expected to be surpassed by costs among those ≥80 years of age by 2035. Costs of informal caregiving for patients with CVD represent an additional 11% of medical and productivity costs attributable to CVD.

Conclusions:

The burden of informal caregiving for patients with CVD is significant; accounting for these costs increases total CVD costs to $616 billion in 2015 and $1.2 trillion in 2035. These estimates have important research and policy implications, and they may be used to guide policy development to reduce the burden of CVD on patients and their caregivers.

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