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Wednesday, 20 November, 2002, 00:30 GMT
Heart disease 'costs billions'
Blood pressure reading
Coronary heart disease is a major killer
Heart disease costs the UK over 7bn a year, researchers have estimated.

The new figure is more than seven times higher than previous estimates, which focus only on the cost to the health care system.

The latest study, financed by the British Heart Foundation, takes into consideration the cost of the "informal" care provided by family and friends of people with heart disease.

This, it is calculated, runs to nearly 2.5bn a year.

The researchers also estimate that heart disease results in 3bn of lost earnings to the economy.

The direct cost to the health care system is estimated at 1.73 bn, with hospital and inpatient care, and prescriptions taking the biggest slices.

The research, based on 1999 figures, concludes that coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most costly disease in the UK - followed by back pain, rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer's disease.

This despite the fact that other diseases cost the NHS more

Major problem

Researcher Dr Mike Rayner, of the University of Oxford, said: "The purpose of this new economic analysis of the burden of CHD was to obtain a more accurate and comprehensive overview of the costs involved.

"The results indicate that the inclusion of informal care and productivity costs is essential to gain an accurate picture of the economic impact of major illness in the UK in the future."

Professor Sir Charles George, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation said: "This study not only confirms our understanding that CHD is a leading public health problem in terms of the economic burden in the UK, but also shows the implications for the condition on patients, their family and wider social networks.

"This study reiterates the need to continue the fight against CHD which is not only a health - but also an economic problem."

CHD is the most common cause of death in the UK accounting for around 125,000 deaths every year: approximately one in four deaths in men and one in six deaths in women.

See also:

07 Jun 02 | Health
17 Oct 02 | Health
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