During the past 15 years, life expectancy has decreased while premature deaths have increased across the United States. The trend is partly driven by a rise in diseases and deaths related to alcohol use, drug use, and self-harm, otherwise termed by researchers as diseases of despair (DoD). Another contributing factor to this trend includes preventable, cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke.
Researchers at Highmark Health, Allegheny Health Network, and the Penn State College of Medicine continued their research on DoD using national Highmark insurance claims to investigate the association between DoD and the subsequent incidence of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD).
“Highmark and Penn State have collaborated on several studies related to diseases of despair over the past 5 years,” said Emily Brignone, PhD, Director of SDoH and Research Enablement Analytics at Highmark. “In this particular study, we found that individuals who had a DoD diagnosis at the beginning of the study were far more likely to go on to develop cardiovascular disease than those without. This was true for both men and women and across all age groups. We also found that every type of DoD increased risk for cardiovascular disease, and this risk was higher still for those with more than one type of DoD diagnosis.”
The research team found that individuals with substance-related disorders alone had 50 percent higher risk of ASCVD, similarly, those with alcohol-related disorders or self-harm had 33 and 30 percent higher risk, respectively. Individuals with both substance-related disorders and self-harm had double the risk of ASCVD.
“What patients and members can take away from this study is that mental and behavioral health conditions may have far reaching effects on physical health,” says Matthew Nudy, MD, Penn State Health cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine and public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine. “Future research should focus on the efficacy of cardiovascular screening and prevention strategies in those affected by DoD.”
The study was supported dually by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health (NIH), through Grant UL1 TR002014, and with funds provided by the Highmark Health Research Institute.
About Highmark Blue Shield
Highmark Inc., doing business as Highmark Blue Shield, protects Pennsylvania individuals and families with a range of high-quality, affordable and reliable health insurance solutions. As the only Blue Shield licensee in Pennsylvania, Highmark Blue Shield has a long and successful history of delivering remarkable experiences in Southeastern Pennsylvania through the Federal Employee Program. Highmark Blue Shield earned a Brand Excellence Award from the national Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, in recognition of its efforts in building brand strength and providing superior customer service, solid financial performance and enrollment growth. Highmark is also annually recognized as a "Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality" from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and a "Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion" through the Disability Equality Index® a leading national benchmark established jointly by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and Disability:IN. Highmark Blue Shield is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.
About Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute
Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) offers research support, tools and resources, consultative services, funding, training and education. These efforts foster collaborations across disciplines to translate new discoveries into practice; connect basic and clinical scientists in the discovery of new treatments, procedures and ways to predict, prevent and treat disease; train new and existing health professionals and investigators; and to support research across the continuum, at all Penn State campuses, and for researchers at every stage of their learning and career.
All references to “Highmark” in this document are references to the Highmark company that is providing the member’s health benefits or health benefit administration and/or to one or more of its affiliated Blue companies. This website is operated by Highmark, Inc. and is not the Health Insurance Marketplace website. It also does not display all Qualified Health Plans available through the Health Insurance Marketplace website. To see all available Qualified Health Plan options, go to the Health Insurance Marketplace website at HealthCare.gov.
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield or Highmark Blue Shield are Medicare Advantage HMO, PPO, and/or Part D plans with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in these plans depends on contract renewal. ®Blue Cross, Blue Shield and the Cross and Shield symbols are registered service marks of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. Benefits and/or benefit administration may be provided by or through the following entities, which are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association: Western and Northeastern PA: Highmark Inc. d/b/a Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Highmark Choice Company, Highmark Health Insurance Company, Highmark Coverage Advantage Inc., Highmark Benefits Group Inc., First Priority Health, First Priority Life or Highmark Senior Health Company. Central and Southeastern PA: Highmark Inc. d/b/a Highmark Blue Shield, Highmark Benefits Group Inc., Highmark Health Insurance Company, Highmark Choice Company or Highmark Senior Health Company. PA: Your plan may not cover all your health care expenses. Read your plan materials carefully to determine which health care services are covered. For more information, call the number on the back of your member ID card or, if not a member, call 866-459-4418. Delaware: Highmark BCBSD Inc. d/b/a Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. West Virginia: Highmark West Virginia Inc. d/b/a Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Highmark Health Insurance Company or Highmark Senior Solutions Company. Visit our website to view the Access Plan required by the Health Benefit Plan Network Access and Adequacy Act. You may also request a copy by contacting us at the number on the back of your ID card. Western NY: Highmark Western and Northeastern New York Inc. d/b/a Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. Northeastern NY: Highmark Western and Northeastern New York Inc. d/b/a Highmark Blue Shield.
Enter your ZIP code so we can show you personalized information.