OBJECTIVES: The nation-wide, community-based intensive hypertension detection and control program, as well as universal health insurance coverage, may well be contributing factors for helping Japan rank near the top among countries with the longest life expectancy. We sought to examine the cost-effectiveness of such a community-based intervention program, as no evidence has been available for this issue.
METHODS: The hypertension detection and control program was initiated in 1963 in full intervention and minimal intervention communities in Akita, Japan. We performed comparative cost-effectiveness and budget-impact analyses for the period 1964-1987 of the costs of public health services and treatment of patients with hypertension and stroke on the one hand, and incidence of stroke on the other in the full intervention and minimal intervention communities.
RESULTS: The program provided in the full intervention community was found to be cost saving 13 years after the beginning of program in addition to the fact of effectiveness that; the prevalence and incidence of stroke were consistently lower in the full intervention community than in the minimal intervention community throughout the same period. The incremental cost was minus 28,358 yen per capita over 24 years.
CONCLUSION: The community-based intensive hypertension detection and control program was found to be both effective and cost saving. The national government's policy to support this program may have contributed in part to the substantial decline in stroke incidence and mortality, which was largely responsible for the increase in Japanese life expectancy.
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