Affordable Care Act increasing life expectancy for heart patients

There may be a significant decline in deaths related to high blood pressure among non-elderly American adults over the next few years thanks to the Affordable Care Act, according to a new study by researchers from George Washington University.

The ACA, also known as Obamacare, expanded insurance coverage to more Americans and aims to increase the quality of insurance available at a lower cost. The researchers predict that the significant increase in Americans with insurance coverage would lead to at least a 5-percent increase in treatment for people with high blood pressure because they have more access to preventive care and are able to afford their medications.

By 2050, this increased treatment rate could lead to 95,000 to 222,000 fewer deaths related to heart disease — up to 6,000 lives saved each year, as well as 111,000 fewer cases of heart disease and 65,000 fewer strokes over the next 25 years, study leaders said.

One in three American adults has high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 30 percent of those adults do not take medication for their high blood pressure and only half of them have their blood pressure under control. High blood pressure increases risk for a number of serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke and heart failure.

The predicted benefits of the ACA are even greater for men as they are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease than women. Researchers also expect Hispanics to see an increased benefit because fewer Hispanic people were insured prior to the ACA becoming law in 2010 than other groups. Blacks are also expected to benefit at a higher rate as they are more likely to have high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease risk factors than other groups.

There are many steps you can take to keep your blood pressure under control, says Dr. Ajay Baddi, cardiologist at Advocate Heart Institute and Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago.

They include:

  • Eating a healthy diet and reducing sodium consumption
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Controlling stress
  • Not smoking
  • Taking blood pressure medications as prescribed

“Some people are able to manage their blood pressure with lifestyle changes alone, while many need medication to control their blood pressure,” says Dr. Baddi. “It’s important to talk with your doctor to determine the strategy that works best for you.”

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