Neurological conditions cost almost $9 billion a year in Canada - Conditions associated with longer hospital stays, greater number of years of lost healthy life

    OTTAWA, June 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Neurological diseases, disorders and
injuries have a significant economic impact in Canada, costing an estimated
$8.8 billion in 2000-2001, according to a new report released today. The
report, produced by the Canadian Neurological Sciences Federation (CNSF) and
the Canadian Brain and Nerve Health Coalition (CBANHC) in collaboration with
the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), used preliminary
estimates on the burden of illness from the Public Health Agency of Canada
(PHAC). This report is the first of its kind to examine the economic and
health-related costs associated with 11 common neurological conditions in
Canada: Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), brain
tumours, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, head injury, headaches, multiple sclerosis,
Parkinson's disease, spinal injuries and stroke.
    "Neurological conditions affect hundreds of thousands of Canadians, and
are among the leading causes of disability in the Canadian population," says
Dr. Charles Tator, Chair of the Canadian Brain and Nerve Health Coalition.
"Very few neurological conditions are curable, many worsen over time and
patients often experience loss of function, accompanied at times with
debilitating pain. This represents not just a great burden for patients and
their families, but a considerable economic impact for society as a whole."
    For example, indirect costs, representing the dollar value of production
lost due to long-term disability or premature death, accounted for an
estimated $6.5 billion in 2000-2001, or almost three-quarters of total costs
of the neurological conditions in the study. In comparison, direct costs,
including dollars spent on hospital care, physician care and drugs, were
estimated at $2.3 billion that year.

    Alzheimer's disease and stroke carry highest costs

    Among the 11 neurological conditions examined in this study, stroke had
the highest direct costs, estimated at $665 million in 2000-2001, followed by
Alzheimer's disease ($431 million) and headaches ($411 million). Hospital care
expenditures accounted for almost three-quarters (70%) of the total direct
costs for these neurological conditions, while drug expenditures had the
second-largest share (20%) and physician care expenditures made up the
smallest proportion (10%) of direct costs.
    The report also calculated indirect costs for nine of the neurological
conditions in the study, and found the largest costs to be associated with
stroke ($2.1 billion), Alzheimer's disease ($1 billion), multiple sclerosis
($811 million) and brain tumours ($805 million). These nine neurological
conditions alone accounted for 8.3% of the total indirect cost of illness in
    Neurological conditions also affect the health of the population. To
quantify this burden, this report includes estimates of disability-adjusted
life years (DALYs), a calculation of the years of healthy life lost due to
disability or premature death, for six of the neurological conditions
highlighted in this report: Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, headache, multiple
sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and stroke.
    "These six conditions alone accounted for over 500,000 lost years of
healthy life, or 10.6% of the total DALYs for all illnesses in Canada," says
Dr. Tator. "This new information tells us that neurological conditions are not
just costly from an economic standpoint, but they also place a heavy burden on
the health of the Canadian population as a whole. To put this in perspective,
neurological conditions represent a greater burden in terms of lost years of
healthy life in Canada than endocrine diseases, respiratory diseases and
digestive diseases together."

    Patients with neurological conditions have longer-than-average hospital

    In 2004-2005, about 180,000 patients with at least one of the
11 neurological conditions highlighted in this report had to spend at least
one night in an acute care hospital in Canada. In fact, 9.3% of all
hospitalizations in Canada were for patients with at least one of these
11 conditions. The median length of stay for patients with a neurological
condition was seven days, compared with an overall median of four days for all
acute care patients.

    Need for additional data on neurological conditions in Canada

    The report also notes that there is insufficient data to assess the full
impact of these conditions, and CBANHC and its members are calling for more
research in this area to provide a more complete picture.
    "While this report provides an important first step, we hope it will pave
the way for more studies, and serve as a foundation in the building blocks
toward a better understanding of neurological diseases, disorders and injuries
in Canada," says Garth Bray, Vice President of the Canadian Neurological
Sciences Federation.

    About CNSF

    The Canadian Neurological Sciences Federation (CNSF), formerly the
Canadian Congress of Neurological Sciences (CCNS), is an organization
representing four member societies: the Canadian Neurological Society, the
Canadian Neurosurgical Society, the Canadian Society of Clinical
Neurophysiologists and the Canadian Association of Child Neurologists. CNSF's
mission is to enhance the care of patients with diseases of the nervous system
through education, advocacy and improved methods of diagnosis, treatment and

    About CBANHC

    The Canadian Brain and Nerve Health Coalition (CBANHC) is a coalition of
several voluntary health organizations, scientists associated with the
Canadian Association for Neuroscience and the Institute of Neurological
Diseases, Mental Health and Addiction, NeuroScience Canada, and practitioners
with an interest in neurological disorders. CBANCH is committed to improving
the quality of life of Canadians by promoting access to cost-effective
treatments, supporting research and education and promoting public and
government awareness of the incidence and impact of nervous system disorders
and injuries. The members of this Coalition plan to use this report to raise
awareness for the need for more information and research into neurological
diseases, disorders and injuries, as well as for enhanced access to services.

    The full report and the following figures are available on CIHI's website

    Table 1.  Direct Costs Including Hospital Care, Physician Care and Drug
              Expenditures for Highlighted Neurological Conditions in Canada,
    Table 2.  Indirect Costs (Mortality and Morbidity) by Highlighted
              Neurological Conditions in Canada, 2000-2001
    Figure 1. Indirect Costs for All Illness in Canada by Diagnostic
              Category, 2000-2001
    Figure 2. Disability-Adjusted Life Years for All Illness in Canada by
              Diagnostic Category, 2000-2001

For further information:

For further information: Media contacts: Lisa Brazeau, Cell: (613)

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