Quebec City − Health-care costs for patients in just the first six months after they have a stroke is more than $2.5 billion a year in Canada, according to a study presented today at the Canadian Stroke Congress.
The Canadian Stroke Network's Burden of Ischemic Stroke (BURST) study found that the direct and indirect health-care costs for new stroke patients tally an average $50,000 in the six-month period following a new stroke. There are about 50,000 new strokes in Canada each year.
Earlier and widely quoted estimates, based on the most recent data from Health Canada's Economic Burden of Illness (1998), indicated that the total cost of stroke in Canada was $2.4 billion a year for both new stroke patients and long-term survivors. There are 300,000 people living with stroke in Canada.
"Our old estimates of how much stroke costs the economy are way off base," says Dr. Mike Sharma, who together with Dr. Nicole Mittmann of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, led the BURST study, which is the first prospective national economic analysis on stroke costs.
"The cost of stroke is far more than we expected at least double previous estimates."
BURST researchers examined the health-care costs of 232 hospitalized stroke patients in 12 sites across Canada at discharge, three months, six months, and one year. The study looked at both disabling and non-disabling stroke.
Hospitalization, medication, physician services, diagnostic imaging, homecare and rehabilitation all contribute to the bill. There are also indirect costs, including disability leave, lost wages, assisted devices, caregivers, and out-of-pocket expenses for families such as personal assistance products or changes to homes to accommodate disabilities.
While costs are much higher than expected, "the idea is to make initial investments in prevention and acute treatment to prevent these costs down the road," says Dr. Sharma.
|Contact: Jane-Diane Fraser|
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada