The UK spends more of its healthcare budget on cardiovascular disease than any other country in the European Union, the figures show.
The research team from the Health Economics Research Centre at the University of Oxford base their calculations on all UK residents with diagnosed cardiovascular disease in 2004 and associated costs.
These included community health and social services, emergency care, hospital stays, informal care, and the impact on productivity from illness and premature death.
When all these factors were added up, the total costs to the UK economy of cardiovascular disease in 2004 came to 29 billion.
The largest component was healthcare, which accounted for 60% of the total. Lost productivity accounted for 23% and informal care cost 17%.
Cardiovascular disease and cost the NHS almost 16 billion in 2004, representing 21% of all healthcare expenditure. Private healthcare costs add almost 1.5 billion to the tally, representing 18% of overall UK healthcare costs.
These figures represent the highest proportion of healthcare expenditure on cardiovascular disease of any country in the European Union.
Hospital inpatient care was the most expensive component at almost 10 billion or nearly two thirds of the NHS bill for cardiovascular disease.. Drug costs amounted to almost 3 billion.
More than 69 million work days were lost to the disease in 2004, at a cost to the UK economy of almost 3 billion.
An accompanying editorial suggests that despite the falling rates of illness and death from cardiovascular disease, cost savings are likely to be cancelled out by the rising costs of treatment, the ageing of the population, and the threat to heart health posed by obesity and diabetes