Being jobless is worse than diabetes for heart-related death

02 May 2017

Being unemployed is surely bad enough in itself, but here's how it gets even worse it leads to a 50-per cent higher risk of death in patients suffering from heart failure, says new research from the European Society of Cardiology.

Being jobless is more dangerous than having a history of diabetes or stroke because of the toll it takes on a person's overall wellbeing.

"Workforce exclusion has been associated with increased risk of depression, mental health problems and even suicide," said Dr Rasmus Roerth, the study's lead author.

The study compared the risks of death in heart failure patients ranging in age from 18 to 60 years old, who were both employed and unemployed and suffered a heart-related incident over 15 years. They saw that 31 per cent of unemployed patients died within 1,000 days after their incident, compared to 16 per cent of employed people.

The researchers adjusted their findings to account for age, sex, education level and co-morbidities (other chronic diseases), and found that heart failure patients who were unemployed had a 50 per cent increased risk of death and a 12 per cent higher risk of re-hospitalisation compared to their employed peers.

"Employment status is more than just a physical measurement as it also has an influence on quality of life, and has been shown to be important for mental health and wellbeing,'' Dr Roerth said. "Both from a physical and psychological point of view, it makes sense to include employment status in the evaluation of heart failure patients' prognosis."

Dr Roerth also noted that unemployment could be used to identify heart failure patients who are at risk of death and that efforts made towards getting patients back into the workforce might be beneficial.

"Knowledge on why workforce exclusion has happened for the individual patient might lead to ideas on how it can be prevented," he said. "For example: with more intensive rehabilitation, physical activity, psychological treatment, or a different job."

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