Heart disease costs the UK economy £29bn a year in healthcare expenditure and lost productivity, researchers say.
Heart disease is the UK's number one killer
The UK spends more of its healthcare budget on cardiovascular disease than any other EU country, their study, in specialist journal Heart, reveals.
The cost to the NHS in 2004 was £16bn and 69 million work days were lost.
Oxford University's Health Economics Research Centre based its calculations on all UK residents with diagnosed cardiovascular disease in 2004.
The researchers calculated that healthcare accounted for 60% of the total cost to the UK economy. Lost productivity made up 23%, and informal care the rest.
Cardiovascular disease cost the NHS almost £16bn in 2004, with the private sector running up a bill of almost £1.5bn.
Hospital in-patient care was the most expensive component at almost £10bn, while drug costs amounted to almost £3bn.
More than 69 million work days were lost to the disease in 2004, at a cost to the UK economy of almost £3bn.
In an accompanying editorial, Dr Georgios Lyatzopoulos, of the Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority, warns that rising rates of obesity threaten to ensure that cardiovascular disease continues to be a major cause of death and disease.
He also warns that costs of treatment are likely to rise.
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Since approximately 40% of all deaths in the UK are from cardiovascular disease, it is not surprising that it costs the nation such a large amount.
"The unfortunate thing is that we know that much of this disease burden could be reduced or even abolished with appropriate public health measures such as reducing smoking, increasing opportunities for exercise and improving the nation's diet.
"Although it might be expensive to provide exercise facilities such as playing fields and gyms, this research shows that it is much more expensive not to.
"This study should stimulate policy makers to reconsider public health measures to reduce the massive burden of cardiovascular disease in the UK."