February 13, 2017

Little-known disease has major economic impact

An 1918 illustration showing blood vessels in the head and face. The drawing is from Henry Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body

An 1918 illustration showing blood vessels in the head and face. The drawing is from Henry Gray’s Anatomy of the Human BodyHenry Gray

Giant cell arteritis is estimated to cost U.S. health-care system $1 billion in first year of treatment

PORPP faculty members, Joseph Babigumira, Louis Garrison, Denise Boudreau, Jennie Best, and grad student, Meng Li, published a research paper about the cost impact of giant cell arteritis  in the open-access journal Rheumatology and Therapy.

Health-care system spending on patients in the United States with giant cell arteritis is $16,400 more in the first year after diagnosis compared to similar patients without the disease. This finding comes from a new study from the University of Washington School of Public Health. The little-known, chronic disease of the blood vessels affects 230,000 Americans.

Joseph Babigumira

Joseph Babigumira

“In addition to its significant clinical burden, giant cell arteritis has a substantial economic impact, as it increases costs to both the health care system and patients in the U.S.,” said Joseph Babigumira, lead author of the study. He is an assistant professor of global health and adjunct assistant professor of pharmacy.

Giant cell arteritis most often affects the arteries in the head, especially those in the temples. The condition frequently causes headaches, scalp tenderness, jaw pain and vision problems. If left untreated, it can lead to stroke or blindness.

Read the story in UW Health Sciences NewsBeat: “Little-known disease has major economic impact: Giant cell arteritis is estimated to cost U.S. health-care system $1 billion in first year of treatment

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