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Study Says Chest Pain Toll in Women is More than Physical

Considering both direct and indirect costs, the financial burden on a woman who has chest pain and blocked coronary arteries may total more than $1 million during her lifetime// . But even a woman who suffers from angina without an obstruction can expect her condition to take a toll in the neighborhood of $800,000, according to a report.

C. Noel Bairey Merz, M.D., medical director of the Preventive and Rehabilitative Cardiac Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, medical director of Women’s Health, and one of the article’s authors, said researchers looked at the cases of 883 women over five years in reaching their conclusions.

'Total cumulative costs were higher for women who have two or three blocked vessels, due largely to the number of outpatient visits and procedures performed. But women with nonobstructive coronary artery disease (CAD) or one blocked artery had proportionately higher drug costs, which resulted in higher indirect costs,' said Bairey Merz, chair of the Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE), from which the estimates were derived.

WISE is a multi-center study launched in 1996 that is funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. This research also was supported by a grant from the National Center for Research Resources.

The research team totaled direct costs from cardiovascular hospitalizations, coronary interventions, outpatient testing, and visits to health care professionals. Indirect costs included such factors as hours lost from work for health care, estimated reduced productivity hours, transportation charges, and the costs of drugs and medical devices.

For women with obstructive CAD, average lifetime costs were estimated to be more than $1 million. But even for those with nonobstructive CAD the average was $767,288 – and this is a group that has been left out of earlier estimates of the economic burden of heart disease; most studi
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