According to a recent study, a third of patients hospitalised with heart failure for the first time have not returned to work one year later.
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.
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 and working status was obtained from Danish nationwide registries.
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.
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.
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.