Coronary heart disease has been Australia’s leading cause of disease burden and death for many years, and impacts more than half a million Australians.
However, little has been known about the economic impact in terms of workplace productivity, which is important given the higher rates of early retirement and unemployment in people and families who suffer from the disease.
Now a new paper by researchers from the Baker Institute and Monash University examining prevention and work productivity highlights the potential savings for the country. It found preventing 20 per cent of new cases of coronary heart disease over the next ten years could save the country $4.3 billion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). While a 10 per cent reduction in cases of coronary heart disease could save Australia $2.2 billion of GDP.
Given 80% of cases of cases of coronary heart disease in Australia are preventable, the savings are not only significant but achievable.
The research, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, modelled the impact of coronary heart disease prevention on work productivity from 2020 to 2029, in which it is predicted we will see more than 290,000 new cases of coronary heart disease.
Study author and PhD candidate, Ms Feby Savira says assuming current trends in coronary heart disease incidence continue over the next ten years, this study highlights that this disease will continue to cause a substantial burden in terms of years of life lost and reduced productivity among working-age Australians.
Coronary heart disease is the most common type of cardiovascular disease (CVD), accounting for nearly half (47%) of all Australian CVD-related deaths, and a third of all deaths worldwide in people over 35 years of age.
Recent data suggests coronary heart disease is the leading cause of CVD-related hospitalisations and the highest disease burden in Australia.
As the study highlights the potential economic benefits from prevention of coronary heart disease, the authors suggest $2.2 billion could be spent as a break-even investment to conservatively prevent 10 per cent of future cases (or 2860 cases per year) in Australia over the next ten years. They say interventions could target individuals in the form of exercise programs, smoking cessation programs, blood pressure control, cholesterol reduction and an increase in the uptake of timely cardiac rehabilitation.
In addition to the health impacts, Feby says non-fatal coronary heart disease is associated with increased unplanned absence from work and reduced output while at work. It is also linked to delayed resumption of work, early labour force dropout and unemployment.