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One-third of heart failure patients don’t get back to work: Study

A study done by Copenhagen University has shown that nearly one-third of heart failure patients never returned to work and most of them were older patients.

health and fitness Updated: May 23, 2016 12:13 IST
Surviving a heart failure,Heart failure chronic illness,Caring for the old
The study noted that a majority of those not returning to work after suffering a heart failure for the first time were older people.(Shutterstock)

As per a study conducted by researchers at the Copenhagen University, Denmark, nearly one-third of heart failure patients (mostly first-timers) did not join back work after being hospitalised. Of them, the older patients outnumbered the younger ones, it added.

Lead author Dr Rasmus Roerth from the Copenhagen University Hospital said that employment is crucial for self esteem and quality of life, as well as being of financial importance, in patients with all kinds of chronic illness.

Read: Mind your waist | Bigger the size, bigger the risk of heart disease

He continued that inability to maintain a full-time job is an indirect consequence of heart failure beyond the usual clinical parameters of hospitalisation and death. Most information on heart failure is derived from studies in older patients since they are the majority. This has led to a knowledge gap regarding the impact of living with heart failure among younger patients, who perhaps have the most to lose from the condition.

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. Information on age, length of hospital stay, gender, education level, income, comorbidities (the presence of one or more additional disorders co-occurring with a primary disease or disorder) and working status was obtained from Danish nationwide registries.

Read: Just one can of soda a day increases risk of heart failure by 23%

The researchers found that one year after being hospitalised for heart failure for the first time, 68 percent of patients had returned to work, 25 percent had not and 7 percent had died.

Younger patients (18 to 30 years) were over three times more likely to return to work than older patients (51 to 60 years). “This is perhaps not that surprising because younger patients have fewer comorbidities and may have a greater determination to stay employed,” said Dr. Roerth.

Patients with a higher level of education were twice as likely to return to work as those with basic schooling.

Read: How skin cells may help treat heart and Parkinson’s patients

The study added that it was important for heart failure patients to work for reasons such as self esteem, quality of life and financial support. (Shutterstock)

The study also found that men were 24 percent more likely to return to work than women.

Conversely, 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.

Read: Try this checklist | 7 important steps to keep heart risk at bay

He concluded that removal from the labour market and dependence on public benefits has great economic consequences which go beyond the already significant financial burden that these patients place on the healthcare system. “More knowledge on what stops patients going back to work will put us in a better position to find ways of preventing it, for example with more intensive rehabilitation, psychological support, or education.”

The study has been presented at Heart Failure 2016 and the 3rd World Congress on Acute Heart Failure.

First Published: May 23, 2016 12:11 IST