Avoiding chronic conditions saves money, increases longevity, study finds

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Preventing chronic conditions could both save significant amounts of money and add healthy years to the lives of the elderly, according to a new report.

Chronic conditions include diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Researchers followed a national cohort of adults aged 51 to 52 years and evaluated their projected medical costs into old age based on preventing chronic conditions. Preventing diabetes would save $34,483; preventing high blood pressure would save $13,702; preventing obesity would save $7,168 according to the report. One perhaps counterintuitive finding showed that quitting smoking was associated with an average $15,959 increase in lifetime medical costs. Chronic conditions affect up to 90% of seniors.

These preventive measures add time to a person's life as well, researchers found. Preventing obesity would add 0.85 years, preventing high blood pressure would add 2.05 years, preventing diabetes would add 3.17 years and quitting smoking would add 3.44 years. Factoring in the added longevity, researchers say preventing these chronic conditions would be associated with little or no additional lifetime medical spending. The report appears in the Sept. 17 online edition of the American Journal of Public Health.


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