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June 2018

After Heart Attack, Most Return to Work, but Many Don’t Stay

Surviving a heart attack is a life-changing event. Fortunately, with rapid care and treatment, many people are able to enjoy a full and active life. Research even shows that most are able to return to work.

Older man with arms crossed and smiling

But longer term, the outlook may not be as good. A new study found that, within a year of returning to work, about a quarter of heart attack survivors were no longer working. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Age, health problems, depression affect likelihood of leaving work

Researchers examined the records of nearly 40,000 patients in Denmark, ages 30 to 65, who’d had a heart attack. Within one year, more than 90% were working again. But one year after going back to work, 24% had stopped working.

People were more likely to leave their jobs if they:

  • Were younger (ages 30 to 39) or older (ages 60 to 65)

  • Had heart failure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or arrhythmia

  • Were depressed

Cardiac rehabilitation supports successful recovery 

If you’ve suffered a heart attack, you may need extra support to stay well and maintain your work schedule. According to the Danish study, one of the best ways to accomplish this is through cardiac rehabilitation.

With cardiac rehab, a team of experts works with you to help you make key lifestyle changes. The team may include doctors, nurses, exercise specialists, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians, and mental health specialists. A successful cardiac rehab program can help you live a longer, healthier life.

If you’ve suffered a heart attack, talk with your doctor about starting a cardiac rehab program. Here are more tips on recovering from a heart attack.

Online Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 12/24/2017
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