The Economic Burden of Heart Conditions in Brazil

Abstract Background: Heart conditions impose physical, social, financial and health-related quality of life limitations on individuals in Brazil. Objectives: This study assessed the economic burden of four main heart conditions in Brazil: hypertension, heart failure, myocardial infarction, and atrial fibrillation. In addition, the cost-effectiveness of telemedicine and structured telephone support for the management of heart failure was assessed. Methods: A standard cost of illness framework was used to assess the costs associated with the four conditions in 2015. The analysis assessed the prevalence of the four conditions and, in the case of myocardial infarction, also its incidence. It further assessed the conditions’ associated expenditures on healthcare treatment, productivity losses from reduced employment, costs of providing formal and informal care, and lost wellbeing. The analysis was informed by a targeted literature review, data scan and modelling. All inputs and methods were validated by consulting 15 clinicians and other stakeholders in Brazil. The cost-effectiveness analysis was based on a meta-analysis and economic evaluation of post-discharge programs in patients with heart failure, assessed from the perspective of the Brazilian Unified Healthcare System (Sistema Unico de Saude). Results: Myocardial infarction imposes the greatest financial cost (22.4 billion reais/6.9 billion USD), followed by heart failure (22.1 billion reais/6.8 billion USD), hypertension (8 billion reais/2.5 billion USD) and, finally, atrial fibrillation (3.9 billion reais/1.2 billion USD). Telemedicine and structured telephone support are cost-effective interventions for achieving improvements in the management of heart failure. Conclusions: Heart conditions impose substantial loss of wellbeing and financial costs in Brazil and should be a public health priority.