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Treating heart ailments costs $78 billion

Research Activities, May 2009, No. 345

Opening blocked arteries, trying to keep heart attack victims alive, fixing defective heart valves, and treating other heart ailments cost $78 billion in 2006—roughly 8 percent of the more than $1 trillion spent on all medical care for the community population, according to an analysis of data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). This figure reflects costs for hospital admissions, emergency department visits, visits to doctors' offices and hospital outpatient departments, home health care, and prescription drug spending. Of the $78 billion spent for heart disease care in 2006, AHRQ found that:

  • Hospital admissions absorbed $43.9 billion, or 56 percent.
  • Visits to doctors' offices and hospital outpatient departments accounted for $15.3 billion, or 20 percent.
  • Outpatient prescription drugs cost $7.9 billion, nearly 10 percent.
  • Home nursing and other home care services cost $6.7 billion, or 9 percent.
  • Emergency room care cost $4.3 billion, or 6 percent.

This analysis was based on data from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). MEPS collects information each year from a nationally representative sample of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population about their health care use, expenses, access to services, health status, and the quality of the health care they obtained. For more information, go to

Current as of May 2009
Internet Citation: Treating heart ailments costs $78 billion: Research Activities, May 2009, No. 345. May 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.