Harvard Heart Letter

Heart Beat: Billions for heart care

Chart of health care spending in 2006

Cardiovascular conditions — including heart attack and stroke — are the leading cause of death in the United States. No surprise, then, that this category tops the health care spending chart, too. An analysis by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality of medical expenses for 2006 (the last year with complete figures) shows that we spent more than $190 billion on treating heart attack and stroke, fixing heart valves, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and other cardiovascular problems. That's approximately 19% of the more than $1 trillion that Americans spent on medical care, and billions more than we spent on the next two runners-up, trauma and cancer, combined.

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