One in three patients who suffered heart failure and were subsequently hospitalised for the first time have not returned to work a year later, a study reveals. Heart failure significantly reduces a patient’s capacity to maintain a normal life and live independently.
“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, a physician at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark.
The findings showed 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 did not, and seven per cent died.
Younger patients (aged between 18 - 30 years) were over three times more likely to return to work than older patients (aged between 51 - 60 years). The reason can be attributed to young patients having less co-morbidity issues as well as a greater determination to stay employed.
Also, patients with a higher level of education were twice as likely to return to work as those with basic schooling.
“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,” Roerth added.
Further, men were 24 per cent more likely to return to work than women. “It could be that men are more often forced to return to work, for financial and other reasons. Having a work identify may be more important to men,” Roerth noted. Conversely, patients were less likely to return to work if they had stayed in hospital for more than seven days, or had a history of stroke, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes or cancer.
For the study, the team included 11,880 heart failure patients aged between 18 - 60 years who were employed prior to being hospitalised for heart failure. “The findings might help to identify which patients are at the greatest risk of becoming unemployed after being in hospital with heart failure for the first time,” Roerth concluded.