Without significant change the economic cost of six chronic diseases could rise from $8 billion at present to $13 billion annually in 2030.
MONTREAL, Nov. 24, 2014 /CNW/ - Quebec could lower the economic burden of chronic diseases by billions of dollars over the next 20 years if Quebecers reduce the prevalence of six conditions, according to a Conference Board of Canada report, Improving Lifestyle Habits: Substantial Benefits for Quebec's Economy and the Health of Its Citizens, released today.
Between now and 2030, Quebec could achieve cumulative savings of $7.7 billion —$1.8 billion in direct costs and $5.9 billion in indirect costs—if more Quebecers adopted a healthier lifestyle and reduced the prevalence of major risk factors for six chronic diseases. In fact, the annual savings could reach $800 million by 2030.
"The analysis shows that prevention of chronic diseases pays off," said Louis Thériault, Vice-President, Public Policy, The Conference Board of Canada. "Quebec can significantly reduce the prevalence and economic burden of many chronic diseases by investing in prevention."
The Conference Board analysis is based on a scenario in which Quebec achieves more ambitious targets for adopting and maintaining a healthier lifestyle by reducing the prevalence of major risk factors. Under the scenario, Quebec would achieve results on par with the best Canadian province by 2030. It should be stressed that the assumptions used in the scenario are conservative and realistic.
The chronic diseases covered by this analysis are ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, hypertension, and diabetes. In 2013, their total cost was estimated at $8.1 billion. The bulk of these costs, 61 per cent, can be attributed to premature mortality. Treatment (drugs, hospital care, and medical care) accounts for another 24 per cent of total costs.
Without significant improvements in the prevalence of the risk factors associated with these conditions, the total annual cost is expected to reach $13 billion by 2030.
The risk factors used in the analysis include smoking, low daily fruit and vegetable consumption, physical inactivity, overweight and obesity, as well as diabetes and hypertension. Although the number of physically-active Quebecers has increased since 2003, the rate of inactivity in the province (50.7 per cent) is among the highest in Canada. The rates of overweight and obese persons has risen in Quebec, as has the proportion of the population that has low consumption of fruits and vegetables, and Quebec's smoking rate — while declining — is higher than the Canadian average.
For the six chronic diseases analyzed in this study, the prevalence is higher among people aged 65 and over. Thus, the aging of the population of Quebec will have an impact on the prevalence of chronic diseases.
Throughout the forecast period from 2010 to 2030, the decrease in the prevalence expected in the enhanced relative to the status quo scenario in 2030 corresponds to a decrease of almost 35,000 cases of heart disease (-5.2 per cent); nearly 6,000 cases of cerebrovascular disease (-6 per cent); of more than 10,000 cases of COPD (-4 per cent); and about 1,180 cases of lung cancer (-5 per cent) in Quebec.
The analysis indicates that the economic burden of ischemic heart disease — the most costly condition — should mark a 5.9 per cent reduction compared to the status quo scenario. The costs of cerebrovascular disease would decrease 5.3 per cent; COPD, 4.5 per cent; lung cancer, 7.7 per cent; hypertension, 7.5 per cent; and diabetes, 6 per cent.
The research was supported by La Direction générale de la santé publique du ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux du gouvernement du Québec, which, in 2012, asked the Conference Board to assess the economic and health impacts of reducing the prevalence of risk factors on the burden of chronic disease in the Quebec population.
SOURCE: Conference Board of Canada
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