U.S. deaths from blood pressure-related diseases are expected to drop substantially during the coming decades because of improved health coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act, a new study reports.
Increased treatment of high blood pressure under the health-care legislation, commonly known as “Obamacare,” will save the lives of 95,000 to 222,000 non-elderly adults by the year 2050, researchers estimate. That’s up to 6,000 people a year who otherwise would die from heart disease.
By 2050, there also could be 408,000 fewer cases of heart disease and stroke among the 55 million young and middle-age Americans who have high blood pressure, the researchers found.
Those numbers are based solely on patients’ increased access to blood pressure medication as a result of the Affordable Care Act, said study lead author Suhui Li. She is an assistant professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services in Washington, D.C.
“It’s important to keep in mind that we aren’t looking at other health benefits brought by the improved coverage, like improved screening and better chronic disease management,” Li said. If that were the case, the estimated number of lives saved likely would be higher, she said.
About 78 million Americans — one in three adults — have high blood pressure, according to the study authors’ background notes. High blood pressure contributes to 35 percent of all heart attacks and strokes, and 49 percent of heart failures.
National surveys from 2011 and 2012 found that less than three-quarters of people with high blood pressure take medication for it, and only half had their high blood pressure under control, the study authors reported.