Does prevention save money?

Prevention and reversal of heart disease are undoubtedly preferable to the current crash and repair model currently followed by doctors and hospital, the model that has created an enormous medical device industry to support it.

But does it save money? This debate often boils down to a metric of "lives saved per $100,000". Thus, the statin drugs (of course) have been subjected to such analyses and have been shown to be "cost-effective."

But how does a powerful heart disease prevention and reversal program like Track Your Plaque compare to the current crash and repair procedural approach to heart disease? This is a very difficult analysis, one that is subject to enormous variation, depending on the population studied and the prevalence of disease, the local practice habits (e.g., in the northwest Cleveland suburb of Lorain, virtually everybody going to the hospital for any heart problem gets one or several heart catheterizations), and other factors.

There's also the difficulty of what should constitute a prevention program. Is it like that used in the COURAGE Trial of "optimal medical therapy" that included nitroglycerin, aspirin, a beta blocker, and statin drug (which we regard as a laughably silly approach), or one like Track Your Plaque in which we try to correct the causes of heart disease, not just palliate (BandAid) them? Costs vary. The "optimal medical therapy" is very costly due to its reliance on medications to treat symptoms. Our program is somewhat costly because of the reliance on a CT heart scan and lipoprotein analysis (though, in the long perspective, our costs are modest).

We asked this question and came up with a lengthy analysis. Bottom line: Following the Track Your Plaque program saves enormous sums of money. Because of the complexity of the analysis, which is theoretical and not a real-world test, we confined our analysis to men in the 40-59 year old age group. If this group alone were to subscribe to a intensive but rational program of prevention like Track Your Plaque, over $20 billion dollars per year would be saved.

If the analysis were extended to women of all ages and men older than 59, the numbers would balloon to many more tens of billions of dollars. Such a savings wouldn't cure the healthcare system's growing financial crisis, but it sure would be a big help. Sort of like converting to a hydrid car--you don't eliminate the need for gas, but you'll save a lot in fuel costs.

The Track Your Plaque approach makes sense because it is, bar none, the most powerful approach to gaining hold of heart disease risk available. But it also makes sense from a financial standpoint. Now, if we can only convince the hospitals, the $30 million annual salary device manufacturer CEO, and my procedure-crazy colleagues that this way makes more sense.

Watch for our analysis on an upcoming Track Your Plaque Special Report.

Comments (2) -

  • JT

    7/12/2007 11:17:00 AM |

    meant to comment early, just been a bit over whelmed with work of late.  Being someone that enjoys reading about a good savings, I'm looking forward to seeing the report.  

    Awhile back, I was in the car with my father talking about weight loss.  About 6 years ago dad jumped head first into an exercise program.  He did it because he had become fat, with his body fat over 25%.  After a few years of intense working out, 2 hour workouts on aerobic and anaerobic equipment was and is common, he dropped his body fat to between 12 and 13% and weight to around 180lbs.  That was it though as he could not drop anymore weight or fat once reaching that level.  Not bad for a 63 year old but he wants more.  

    In our car conversation a week back, dad told me excitedly that for some reason he had dropped to 173lbs and his body fat is at 10%!  His voice was ecstatic.  He didn't know why this happened, as he has been traveling, eating out more than normal of late.  He thought for sure he would gain weight.  I pointed out that he was semi on the TYP diet program and that he takes 2 concentrated fish oil capsules, vitamin D, K, and niacin.  Others have reported weight loss while on the TYP program.  

    "That Dr. Davis should advertise his program as a weight loss program!" dad said.  And he is right, unfortunately or fortunately.  People are vain.  The biggest sellers in the health food industry are weight loss pills and muscle lifting products.  Tell someone that they will correct their heart problems, and while many will think the idea grand, tell them they will loose weight and look and feel fantastic, people get excited.  

    If the TYP program catches on with the general public, I believe savings will reach beyond just the cardiac medical industry.  Watch out Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers.

  • Dr. Davis

    7/12/2007 11:53:00 AM |

    Hi, JT--

    Fabulous results!

    In fact, because of some modifications to the diet that we've added over the past few years, we're going to release the "New" Track Your  Plaque nutrition principles near future. Maybe the results will be even better.