Background: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) imparts a heavy economic burden on the U.S. health care system. Evidence regarding the long-term costs after comprehensive CVD screening is limited. Objectives: This study calculated 10-year health care costs for 6,814 asymptomatic participants enrolled in MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis), a registry sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health. Methods: Cumulative 10-year costs for CVD medications, office visits, diagnostic procedures, coronary revascularization, and hospitalizations were calculated from detailed follow-up data. Costs were derived by using Medicare nationwide and zip code–specific costs, inflation corrected, discounted at 3% per year, and presented in 2014 U.S. dollars. Results: Risk factor prevalence increased dramatically and, by 10 years, diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia was reported in 19%, 57%, and 53%, respectively. Self-reported symptoms (i.e., chest pain or shortness of breath) were common (approximately 40% of enrollees). At 10 years, approximately one-third of enrollees reported having an echocardiogram or exercise test, whereas 7% underwent invasive coronary angiography. These utilization patterns resulted in 10-year health care costs of $23,142. The largest proportion of costs was associated with CVD medication use (78%). Approximately $2 of every $10 were spent for outpatient visits and diagnostic testing among the elderly, obese, those with a high-sensitivity C-reactive protein level >3 mg/l, or coronary artery calcium score (CACS) ≥400. Costs varied widely from <$7,700 for low-risk (Framingham risk score <6%, 0 CACS, and normal glucose measurements at baseline) to >$35,800 for high-risk (persons with diabetes, Framingham risk score ≥20%, or CACS ≥400) subgroups. Among high-risk enrollees, CVD costs accounted for $74 million of the $155 million consumed by MESA participants. Conclusions: Longitudinal patterns of health care resource use after screening revealed new evidence on the economic burden of treatment and testing patterns not previously reported. Maintenance of a healthy population has the potential to markedly reduce the economic burden of CVD among asymptomatic individuals.
- cardiovascular disease screening
- long-term follow-up