Pennies of supps could save billions in medical costs

A new report funded by the Council for Responsible Nutrition outlines massive savings that could result if older Americans with heart disease took daily preventive phytosterols.

Spending just fifteen cents a day on heart-healthy supplements could save Americans billions of dollars in future healthcare costs, according to a new report funded by the Council for Responsible Nutrition Foundation (CRNF).

Researchers at the economic firm Frost & Sullivan conducted a systematic analysis of scientific research in peer-reviewed published studies that examined the relationship between taking phytosterols, plant-based compounds believed to lower cholesterol since the 50s, and the risk of coronary heart disease-related medical events such as a heart attacks. Then, analysts projected the rates of coronary heart disease-attributed events across American adults over the age of 55 with coronary heart disease (CHD) and applied a cost benefit analysis to figure out how much would be saved if people in this targeted population took phytosterols at preventive intake levels, according to a CRNF release. They found it would save an awful lot.

If American adults over the age of 55 with CHD take phytosterol supps, nearly 2.3 million CHD-related medical events would be avoided between 2013 and 2020, totaling a whopping $34 billion in avoided expenditures over that time period. Currently, less than one percent of adults over 55 take phytosterol dietary supplements—so nearly 100 percent of this group has yet to benefit, according to the release. The number of adults aged 55 or over with CHD is expected to rise 13 percent between 2013 and 2020.

Duffy MacKay, N.D., senior vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, Council for Responsible Nutrition, “Elevated cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease,” said Duffy MacKay, N.D., senior vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, Council for Responsible Nutrition, in the release. “Daily consumption of phytosterols can prevent cholesterol buildup in the body by inhibiting its absorption in the intestine. I encourage my patients with or without high cholesterol to eat a phytosterol–rich diet that includes plenty of nuts, whole grains and vegetables. When diet changes are not enough to keep cholesterol levels in a healthy range, I recommend phytosterol-containing dietary supplements. This report reinforces phytosterols as a viable preventive health measure for these individuals.”

The full report, “Smart Prevention—Health Care Cost Savings Resulting from the Targeted Use of Dietary Supplements,” can be seen here, along with a nifty infographic.

CRN leaders took a similar report to Capitol Hill last year. That report, “Smart Prevention: Health Care Cost Savings Utilizing Dietary Supplements,” examined the potential societal and individual savings that could occur if Americans 55 and older with four chronic diseases used one of eight different dietary supplement regimes.

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