The costs of treating heart disease in America, where one in three people has some form of the disease, are expected to triple by 2030 due to the growing population, researchers said Monday.
While current costs of medical care for heart disease are around 273 billion dollars per year, that figure will skyrocket to 818 billion dollars by 2030, the study said.
The findings came from an expert panel that estimated future costs based on current disease rates, and expanded those costs according to projections from US census data about approaching shifts in the population.
The researchers assumed that no new discoveries would be made between now and 2030 to stem the tide of heart disease, said the study published in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association.
"Despite the successes in reducing and treating heart disease over the last half century, even if we just maintain our current rates, we will have an enormous financial burden on top of the disease itself," said Paul Heidenreich, chair of the AHA expert panel that issued the statement.
"These estimates don't assume that we will continue to make new discoveries to reduce heart disease," Heidenreich said.
"If our ability to prevent and treat heart disease stays where we are right now, costs will triple in 20 years just through demographic changes in the population."
The panel said that 36.9 percent of Americans have a condition such as high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, heart failure or stroke, all of which are considered forms of heart disease.
By 2030 that number will rise to 116 million people, or 40.5 percent, with the largest increases expected in stroke victims and heart failure, both up about 25 percent, it said.
"We were all surprised at the remarkable increase in costs that are expected in the next two decades," Heidenreich said.
"We need to continue to invest resources in the prevention of disease, the treatment of risk factors and early treatment of existing disease to reduce that burden."