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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2001 Oct;38(4):1012-7.

The effect of risk factor reductions between 1981 and 1990 on coronary heart disease incidence, prevalence, mortality and cost.

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Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, 94143-0120, USA.



We sought to estimate the impact and cost-effectiveness of risk factor reductions between 1981 and 1990.


Coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality rates have declined dramatically, partly as a result of reductions in CHD risk factors.


We used the CHD Policy Model, a validated computer-simulation model, to estimate the effects of actual investments made to change coronary risk factors between 1981 and 1990, as well as the impact of these changes on the incidence, prevalence, mortality and costs of CHD during this period and projected to 2015.


Observed changes in risk factors between 1981 and 1990 resulted in a reduction of CHD deaths by approximately 430,000 and overall deaths by approximately 740,000, with an estimated cost-effectiveness of about $44,000 per year of life saved during this period, based on the estimated actual costs of the interventions used. However, because much of the benefit of risk factor reductions is delayed, the estimated reductions for the 35-year period of 1981 to 2015 were 3.6 million CHD deaths and 1.2 million non-CHD deaths, at a cost of only about $5,400 per year of life saved.


Aggregate efforts to reduce risk factors between 1981 and 1990 have led to substantial reductions in CHD and should be well worth the cost, largely because of population-wide changes in life-style and habits. Some interventions are much better investments than others, and attention to such issues could lead to better use of resources and better outcomes in the future.

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