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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Economic burden of illness of acute coronary syndromes: medical and productivity costs

Zhenxiang Zhao1* and Melissa Winget2

Author Affiliations

1 Global Health Outcomes, Eli Lilly and Company, 1400 West Raymond Street, Indianapolis, IN 46221, USA

2 Market Access and Reimbursement (MAR), i3 Innovus, PO Box 9472, Minneapolis, MN 55440-9472, USA

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BMC Health Services Research 2011, 11:35  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-35

Published: 14 February 2011



The significant economic burden associated with acute coronary syndromes (ACS) provides a need to evaluate both medical costs and productivity costs, according to evolving guideline-driven ACS treatment strategies, medical management (MM), percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), or coronary artery bypass graft (CABG).


Commercially insured individuals, aged 18-64, with an emergency room (ER) visit or hospitalization accompanied by an ACS diagnosis (index event) were identified from a large claims database between 01/2004 and 12/2005 with a 1-year follow-up period. Patients who had an ACS diagnosis in the 12 months prior to their index event were excluded. Patients were divided into 3 groups according to treatment strategies during the index event: MM, PCI, or CABG. A subset of patients was identified for the productivity cost analysis exploring short-term disability and absenteeism costs. Multivariate generalized linear models were performed to examine the ACS costs by 3 different treatment strategies.


A total of 10,487 patients were identified for the medical cost analysis. The total 1-year medical costs (index event costs plus the 1-year follow-up costs) were lowest for MM patients ($34,087), followed by PCI patients ($52,673) and CABG patients ($86,914). Of the 3,080 patients in the productivity costs analysis, 2,454 patients were identified in the short-term disability cohort and 626 patients were identified in the absenteeism cohort. Both the estimated mean total 1-year short-term disability and absenteeism costs were highest for CABG patients ($17,335, $14,960, respectively) compared to MM patients ($6,048, $9,826, respectively) and PCI patients ($9,221, $9,460, respectively).


Both total 1-year medical costs and 1-year productivity costs are substantial for working-aged individuals with ACS. These costs differ according to the type of treatment strategy, with CABG having higher costs compared to either PCI or MM.