Do you want to save $3,116 on your heart disease medication? The average adult with atherosclerosis (a type of heart disease) spends an average of $4,516 a year on medications. But a brand-new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association shows that some people were able to lower their annual pharmaceutical expenditures down to just $1,400.
By focusing on what researchers called “modifiable risk factors,” people who did everything they could to avoid these lifestyle and dietary risk factors were able to bring down their medication costs by a significant amount.
The risk factors that the study focused on included:
- Inadequate physical activity
- Dyslipidemia (high cholesterol or triglycerides in the blood)
- Hypertension (also known as high blood pressure)
Even after factoring in variables like income, age and ethnicity, and adjusting for inflation, people who did what they could to tackle the risk factors relevant to their situation were able to save thousands of dollars on annual medication costs.
The study’s researchers hypothesize that this is for two distinct reasons.
First, if you’re unable to or unwilling to make changes to your lifestyle, such as going for a walk to raise your physical activity and combat obesity, you may be more likely to turn to medicine as a backup plan.
Second, many of these risk factors are interlinked. If you aren’t active, you’re more likely to be obese, and therefore more likely to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This in turn raises your risks of heart disease like atherosclerosis.
Dr. Joseph Salami is the lead study author and works at the Center for Health Care Advancement and Outcomes at Baptist Health South Florida. In an interview with Reuters, he told reporters: “I think many of us realize how hard these risk factors are to modify. Having incentives that include feeling better and saving money may help with motivation.”
If saving more than $3,000 on drug costs by simply eating healthier and incorporating more physical activity in your life isn’t motivation enough, avoiding the drugs themselves may be an additional bonus. Many heart disease medications come with side effects like constipation and nausea.
Combatting just one of the risk factors that the researchers studied could dramatically help you. For example, a Harvard University medical study followed 44,000 adult men. They found that by simply walking briskly for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, men could reduce their risks of developing heart disease by approximately 20%!
If you’re at risk of heart disease or are currently dealing with heart disease, this new research may be just what the doctor ordered to inspire and motivate you.