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Treating Heart Ailments Costs $78 Billion: Survey

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Treating heart ailments -- from opening blocked arteries to keeping heart patients alive and caring for them -- cost an estimated $78 billion in 2006, or about 8 percent of the more than $1 trillion spent on all medical care for the community population, a U.S. survey says.

The analysis was based on data in a nationally representative sampling from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, according to an agency news release issued Wednesday. The figures represent the costs for hospital admissions, emergency department visits, visits to doctors' offices and hospital outpatient departments, as well as money spent on home health care and prescription drugs. Among the survey's findings:

* Hospital admissions took up $43.9 billion, or 56 percent.
* Visits to doctors and hospital outpatient departments absorbed $15.3 billion, or 20 percent.
* Outpatient prescription drugs cost $7.9 billion, almost 10 percent.
* Home nursing and other home care services ran $6.7 billion, or 9 percent.
* Emergency room care costs were $4.3 billion, or 6 percent.

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