Illustration of heart Scan with body in blue color and heart and arteries in red, purple and bright blue colors

Suffering a heart attack can have a profound and lasting impact on your life in many ways. In addition to being a wake-up call to prioritize your health, the expenses associated with hospital stays, medication, rehabilitative care, mental health and lost wages can quickly become overwhelming. Here are all the ways a heart attack can cost you and your family.

Hospital Expenses for Heart Attack Care

A heart attack is serious and requires immediate medical attention for the best chance of survival. In many cases, professional intervention comes too late or not at all, resulting in permanent damage to the heart or even death. Anyone who suspects they are having a heart attack should seek emergency care as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, treatment for a heart attack in any hospital in the U.S. is often more than the average person can afford on their own. Although treatment and time spent in the hospital will vary depending on the severity of the heart attack, there are average numbers associated with in-hospital cardiac care.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality¹, heart attack patients paid $21,500 per hospital stay at an average length of 5.3 days in the hospital. Even with health insurance, Kaiser Health News² reported incidents of some patients paying upwards of $100,000 when surgery is involved. Broken down, these costs included expenses such as:

  • Chest x-rays
  • Echocardiogram
  • MRI
  • CT scans
  • Heart stent
  • Emergency room visit
  • Bypass surgery
  • Intravenous medication
  • Bloodwork and lab tests
  • Room and care charges

The Cost of Medication and Post-Hospital Care

The financial effects of a heart attack extend beyond just the hospital stay. Patients often need medication and skilled nursing care after being treated for a heart attack. In order for patients to rebuild their health, it can take months (or even years) of rehabilitation, physical and occupational therapy, nutrition counseling, and regular bloodwork and monitoring.

The cost of medication needed for a patient to manage pain, symptoms and recovery can vary after a heart attack or other cardiovascular issue. Depending on several factors, some people might have to pay hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets each month for necessary medication. These factors include:

  • What drugs does the patient need, and for how long?
  • Are generic drugs available?
  • Does the patient have insurance?
  • What kinds of prescription medication does the patient’s insurance cover?
  • Does the patient have access to discount drug outlets?
  • What is the monthly dosage for the medication?

In addition to medication, patients will need to build strength, endurance and skills required for daily life. Some people who suffer a heart attack have permanent damage and will need ongoing care for the foreseeable future. All these expenses add up and are rarely entirely covered by health insurance.

Lost Wages and Missed Career Opportunities

Most people do not return to work right away after a heart attack because they need time to recover. They also must consider making lifestyle changes related to bad habits that led to the cardiac episode in the first place. However, it means they won’t have a steady income and could potentially miss out on career advancements.

This loss of work can cost an individual in many ways. Of course, there’s the financial aspect of losing a regular wage while recovering. However, patients also run the risk of losing their insurance for themselves and their family members, increasing insurance rates and, in some cases, losing their job altogether. For some, not doing their job or working in a field they feel passionate about can lead to depression.

Mental Health Costs to an Individual

According to an article published by Cleveland Clinic³, depression is very common after a heart attack. In fact, there are a lot of emotions a person may feel soon after a heart attack or being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. It can be overwhelming, confusing, frustrating, stressful and scary to know your health and life are at risk. Also, there are often feelings of guilt associated with a cardiac episode for failing to live a healthy lifestyle that could have prevented the attack.

These negative feelings and generally low moods can be detrimental to a person’s heart attack recovery. A patient may lack the motivation and confidence necessary to rebuild their health in the most effective way. Some patients will need to seek professional help if the depression persists or feelings progress to thoughts of suicide. Unfortunately, mental health issues are just another way a heart attack can cost you in the end.

Preventative Healthcare to Avoid Heart Attacks

With the cost of a heart attack being so high in more ways than one, it’s essential to prioritize your health now to avoid dealing with life-threatening cardiovascular issues. Focusing on a balanced diet, active lifestyle, preventative care and mental wellness will help you take control of your mind and body for an overall healthier you.

One way to focus on preventative healthcare is to have a heart CT scan with coronary calcium score to measure the potentially hazardous plaque buildup in your arteries. It will give you a detailed view of your current cardiovascular health, so you can make the appropriate changes to stay healthy. Preventative Diagnostic Center offers affordable, low-dose CT scans in Las Vegas for those looking to stay on top of their health. To learn more, contact our team today!


¹Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).Cardiovascular/Cerebrovascular Conditions and Procedures 2001 to 2012. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved 16 September 2021.

²Terhune, Chad. (27 August 2018). A Jolt To The Jugular! You’re Insured But Still Owe $109K For Your Heart Attack. Kaiser Health News. Retrieved 16 September 2021.

³Pozuelo, Leo, MD. (29 April 2019). Depression & Heart Disease. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved 14 September 2021.

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