London | One-third of heart failure patients do not return to work, according to a new study which found that men, younger patients and those with higher education levels were most likely to go back to their job.
Inability to maintain a full time job is an indirect consequence of heart failure beyond the usual clinical parameters of hospitalisation and death, said Rasmus Roerth from Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark.
The study included 11,880 heart failure patients of working age (18 to 60 years) who were employed prior to being hospitalised for heart failure. Researchers found that one year after being hospitalised for heart failure for the first time, 68 per cent of patients had returned to work, 25 per cent had not, and 7 per cent had died.
Among patients who are alive one year after their first heart failure hospitalisation, 37 per cent did not return to work, which is a substantial proportion, said Roerth. It confirms that heart failure significantly reduces a patient’s capacity to maintain a normal life and live independently, he added. Younger patients (18 to 30 years) were over three times more likely to return to work than older patients (51 to 60 years), researchers said.
This is perhaps not that surprising because younger patients have fewer comorbidities and may have a greater determination to stay employed, said Roerth. Patients with a higher level of education were twice as likely to return to work as those with basic schooling, researchers said. This could be because higher education is associated with less physically demanding jobs.
In addition, it may be more possible for highly educated patients to arrange a flexible work life, said Roerth. Men were 24 per cent more likely to return to work than women, researchers said. We do not think that this is primarily explained by men having a better recovery than women, said Roerth.
It could be that men are more often forced to return to work, for economical and other reasons. Having a work identify may be more important to men, he said. Patients were less likely to return to work if they had stayed in hospital for more than 7 days, or had a history of stroke, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes or cancer, researchers said.