Adhering to Heart Health

Adhering to Heart Health

06.12.13 | By Preet Bilinski

Every 39 seconds an American dies from cardiovascular disease, and more than 83 million Americans have at least one type of the disease, the American Heart Association (AHA) reports. But today, America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are developing 215 medicines for two of the leading causes of death of Americans – heart disease and stroke. 

However, death rates from heart disease and stroke are falling, thanks in large part to new medicines.  Advances in medicine helped cut deaths from heart disease by 30 percent between 2001 and 2011, according to the CDC. In the late 1950s, cardiovascular deaths were on the rise and doctors had few tools to treat their patients. Today, doctors have many ways to treat cardiovascular disease. The medicines in the pipeline represent new scientific approaches to treating and preventing heart disease and stroke.  These medicines – all in human clinical trials or under review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – include:

  • 30 for heart failure, which impacts approximately 5.1 million Americans.
  • 29 for lipid disorders, such as high cholesterol, which affect nearly 100 million adults in the U.S.
  • 19 for stroke, which affects more than 22,000 people each year in the United States.
  • 17 for hypertension, which impacts approximately 78 million Americans.

Many of these potential medicines use cutting-edge technologies and new scientific methods, such as a gene therapy that uses a patient’s own cells to treat heart failure; a medicine that blocks the transfer of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL); and a genetically-engineered medicine that dissolves clots to treat stroke.

Additionally the progress against cardiovascular disease has had a profound impact on helping to control health care costs. Cardiovascular diseases cost society more than $312 billion a year. And the AHA projects that future costs will increase. Annual costs of stroke-related care are expected to increase by 129% to $240.6 billion by 2030. Costs associated with congestive heart failure (CHF) could more than double to $70 billion by 2030. This estimated 46% increase in incidence could result in every U.S. taxpayer paying $244 annually for CHF expenses, not just those with the disease, in 2030.

Extensive evidence shows that appropriate use and adherence to medicines play an important role in decreasing spending on medical services. For example, a recent Congressional Budget Office report announced a changed to their scoring methodology that recognized the beneficial impact that use of prescription medicines has on reducing spending on other medical services in Medicare. The potential for savings is magnified within certain chronic diseases, like CHF. A recent study published in The American Journal of Managed Care found that improved adherence to medication following the expansion of drug coverage under Medicare Part D led to nearly $2.6 billion in savings to medical expenditures annually among beneficiaries with CHF. The study, supported by PhRMA, also found that improving adherence to recommended levels could save Medicare another $1.9 billion annually, leading to $22.4 billion over 10 years.

More than the savings, however, adherence to prescribed therapies is a potential lifesaver, since many people can reduce their odds of heart disease and stroke by leading healthy lifestyles and, when necessary, taking medication.

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