The Cost of High Cholesterol

High cholesterol is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and specifically for coronary heart disease (CHD).

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. In fact, it kills more Americans each year than all cancers combined. Approximately 17% of all national healthcare spending focuses on this disease alone.

Rising Medical Costs of Cardiovascular Disease

By 2030, approximately 40% of the U.S. population is expected to have some form of CVD. As a result, direct medical costs for CVD in the U.S. are expected to triple from $273 billion currently to $818 billion in 2030. Indirect costs, due to lost productivity, are projected to increase by approximately 60% in the same period, from $172 billion to $276 billion. Overall, the total costs of CVD will more than double over the next 20 years, to well over a trillion dollars. If the U.S. could save the costs associated with CVD, it would be like giving every American household a $9,700 check!

The economic burden of particular forms of CVD, such as CHD and stroke—conditions that are directly tied to high cholesterol—is elevated and expected to escalate. In 2010, the amount spent on cholesterol medications in the U.S. was $18.7 billion. CHD, or the dangerous narrowing of blood vessels in the heart due to plaque accumulation, currently costs $108.9 billion per year and is projected to double by 2030 to $218.7 billion. The total cost of stroke will nearly triple—from $53.9 billion to $140 billion.

Hopeful News For The Future

Progress in treating CVD risk factors, such as high cholesterol, appears to be having a positive impact. Death rates from CVD decreased nearly 30% from 1996 to 2006. Additionally, approximately 24% of the reduction in CHD death in the U.S. has been attributed to reductions in cholesterol, and the prevalence of CHD has dropped—from 6.7% of the adult population to 6.0%—in the past five years.