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The Impact of Antihypertensive Drugs on the Number and Risk of Death, Stroke and Myocardial Infarction in the United States


  • Genia Long
  • David Cutler
  • Ernst R. Berndt
  • Jimmy Royer
  • Andrée-Anne Fournier
  • Alicia Sasser
  • Pierre Cremieux


Estimating the value of medical innovation is a continual challenge. In this research, we quantify the impact of antihypertensive therapy on U.S. blood pressures, risk and number of heart attacks, strokes, and deaths. We also consider the potential for further improvements. We estimate the value of innovation using equations relating blood pressure to adverse outcomes from the Framingham Heart Study. Our results show that without antihypertensive therapy, 1999-2000 average blood pressure for the U.S. population age 40 plus would have been 10-13 percent higher. 86,000 excess premature deaths from cardiovascular disease (2001), and 833,000 hospital discharges for stroke and heart attacks (2002) would have occurred. Life expectancy would be 0.5 (men) and 0.4 (women) years lower. At guideline care, there would have been 89,000 fewer premature deaths (2001) and 420,000 fewer hospital discharges for stroke and heart attack (2002) than observed. Our analysis suggests that antihypertensive therapy has had a significant impact on cardiovascular health outcomes but that mortality gains would have been approximately twice as high if guideline care had been achieved for all.

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  • Genia Long & David Cutler & Ernst R. Berndt & Jimmy Royer & Andrée-Anne Fournier & Alicia Sasser & Pierre Cremieux, 2006. "The Impact of Antihypertensive Drugs on the Number and Risk of Death, Stroke and Myocardial Infarction in the United States," NBER Working Papers 12096, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12096
    Note: AG HC

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Milton C. Weinstein, 2005. "Spending Health Care Dollars Wisely: Can Cost-Effectiveness Analysis Help? 16th Annual Herbert Lourie Memorial Lecture on Health Policy," Center for Policy Research Policy Briefs 30, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
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    Cited by:

    1. Martha J. Bailey & Andrew Goodman-Bacon, 2015. "The War on Poverty's Experiment in Public Medicine: Community Health Centers and the Mortality of Older Americans," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(3), pages 1067-1104, March.

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    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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