The value of aortic valve replacement in elderly patients: An economic analysis

Ying Xing Wu, Gary L. Grunkemeier, Albert Starr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective: Economists have designed frameworks to measure the economic value of improvements in health and longevity. Heart valve replacement surgery has significantly prolonged life expectancy and quality of life. For the example of aortic valve replacement, what is its economic value according to this framework? Methods: From 1961 through 2003, a total of 4617 adult patients underwent aortic valve replacement by one team of cardiac surgeons. These patients were provided with a prospective lifetime follow-up service. As of 2005, observed follow-up was 31,671 patient-years, with a maximum of 41 years. A statistical model was used to generate the future life-years of patients currently alive. The value of life-years proposed by economists was applied to determine the economic value of the additional life given to these patients by aortic valve replacement. Results: The total life-years after aortic valve replacement were 53,323, with a gross value of $14.6 billion. The total expected life-years without surgery were 10,157, with an estimated value of $3.0 billion. Thus the net life-years gained by AVR were 43,166, worth $11.6 billion. Subtracting the $451 million total lifetime cost of surgery, the net value of the life-years gained by AVR was $11.2 billion. The mean net value decreases according to age at surgery but is still worth $600,000 for octogenarians and $200,000 for nonagenarians. Conclusion: According to the economic concept of the value of a statistical life, the return on the investment for aortic valve replacement is enormous for patients of all ages, even very elderly patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-607
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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