New heart health strat­egy could save bil­lions of dol­lars

Cape Breton Post - - LIFESTYLES -

OTTAWA (CP) — A na­tional plan to pro­mote health­ier liv­ing and re­duce heart dis­ease and strokes could save the coun­try $76 bil­lion be­tween now and 2020 — if it meets just some of its tar­gets — a new re­port says.

The Con­fer­ence Board of Canada an­a­lysed the po­ten­tial sav­ings of a heart health plan put to­gether last year by a coali­tion of groups, in­clud­ing the Heart and Stroke Foun­da­tion of Canada.

The strat­egy pro­motes health­ier liv­ing — less smok­ing, more ex­er­cise, bet­ter diet — to re­duce some of the un­der­ly­ing causes of stroke and heart dis­ease, in­clud­ing obe­sity and di­a­betes.

Sup­port­ers of the plan hope the March 4 fed­eral bud­get will in­clude fi­nanc­ing to make it a re­al­ity.

Louis The­ri­ault, au­thor of the board’s re­port, said the strat­egy could pre­vent tens of thou­sands of heart at­tacks and other danger­ous con­di­tions.

” The cost bur­den of th­ese dis­eases will de­crease sub­stan­tially, lead­ing to cost sav­ings for the health sys­tem, gov­ern­ments and the Cana­dian econ­omy,” he said.

The sav­ings could even be higher than fore­cast, he added, not­ing: “ We’ve been con­ser­va­tive with our as­sump­tions.”

Dr. Charles Kerr, pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian Car­dio­vas­cu­lar So­ci­ety, said the ben­e­fits go far be­yond sav­ing money.

” We must achieve th­ese tar­gets not only for fi­nan­cial rea­sons, but to main­tain the qual­ity of life of Cana­di­ans and to pre­vent un­nec­es­sary, pre­ma­ture death and dis­abil­ity.”

The study looked at di­rect costs — hospi­tal stays, drugs and doc­tors — as well as lost in­come from pre­ma­ture deaths or chronic ill­ness. It cal­cu­lated the sav­ings by tak­ing a do-noth­ing sce­nario and com­par­ing it to a pro­gram which re­duced con­di­tions such as di­a­betes and high blood pres­sure.

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