Study finds chronic disease prevention reduces medical costs


NEW YORK Prevention of such chronic diseases as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure improves the lives of older Americans and also reduces medical costs, a new study found.

The study, conducted by Dana Goldman of RAND Corp. and colleagues, appeared in the Sept. 17 online edition and in the November print issue of the American Journal of Public Health. The researchers looked at a group of adults ages 51 to 52, and found that life longevity when chronic diseases were avoided increased between  0.85 and 3.44 years, depending on which disease was prevented.

In addition to these findings, the researchers also found lifetime medical costs would be saved: Preventing obesity would save $7,168; preventing high blood pressure would save $13,702; and preventing diabetes would save $34,483. However, the lifetime medical costs for a person who quits smoking would be $15,959 higher, the researchers noted.

"Our data indicate that primary prevention could improve the health and longevity of future cohorts of elderly persons in the United States at a relatively low cost," the researchers concluded.

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