One in four people leave work a year after a heart attack
Dr KK Aggarwal
Most people leave their job within a year of returning to work after having a heart attack, says a study reported in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Patients aged between 30 and 39 years and those between 60 and 65 years reported the highest rate of work dropout after return to work.
About 91% of the 22,394 heart attack patients who were employed before hospitalization for a first-time heart attack, returned to work within a year of the episode. But, within a year of resuming work, 24.2% of them left their jobs and were supported by social benefits.
Comorbid heart failure, arrhythmia, and depression, diabetes were found to be the clinical risk factors for unemployment. Patients with high income and high education level were more likely to remain employed, compared with those with lower educational and income levels.
Several factors – medical, economic, psychosocial – influence return to work following a heart attack. As doctors we take care of the medical factors, drug therapy, managing complications and secondary prevention. But, being part of the multidisciplinary cardiac rehabilitation team, it is equally important to take care of psychosocial factors that may affect recovery of a patient.
This study brings into focus the rehabilitation of post-MI patients and shows that return to work may not be a valid measure of successful recovery of working capacity.
Besides improving functional capacity, cardiac rehabilitation also supports a patient in returning to work following a heart attack. Hence, the rehabilitation of each patient should take into consideration the individual physical, psychological and social challenges of the patient. Post-MI patients, particularly the young patients and those with comorbidities and poorer socioeconomic status should receive increased focus on cardiac rehabilitation so that they continue with their jobs even after a heart attack.
(Source: AHA News Release, October 4, 2017)