Physically fit, healthy middle-aged adults have significantly lower healthcare costs as they age, compared to their less physically fit counterparts, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research 2012 Scientific Sessions.
The study tracked Medicare coverage in 20,489 healthy people, free of prior heart attack, stroke or cancer, from 1999-2009. The average age was 51 years and 21 percent were women. Risk factors and physical fitness were determined at the beginning of the study.
Associations between midlife fitness and healthcare costs in later life were estimated after being adjusted for each patient’s age, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol profile, diabetes, smoking status and medical history.
Compared to people in the lowest fitness category, those in the highest categories at age 51 had significantly lower healthcare costs after age 65. After age 65, for men, annual costs were $3,277 (highest fitness) versus $5,134 (lowest fitness) and for women, $2,755 (highest fitness) versus $4,565 (lowest fitness). This inverse association between fitness and healthcare costs was consistent across all levels of traditional risk factors, as well as after adjustment for patient gender.
Note: Presentation is 5p.m. ET, Thursday, May 10, 2012. Author disclosures and funding information are on the abstracts.
Statements and conclusions of study authors presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the association’s policy or position. The association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at www.heart.org/corporatefunding .
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