More than 76% of cardiac arrest survivors return to work

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More than 76 percent of people who survived an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest returned to work in a median of four months, according to an analysis of a Danish registry. Among that population, the salaries remained similar one year before and one year after the cardiac arrest.

The study also found there was a significant decrease in anoxic brain damage among survivors. People who received CPR from a bystander were approximately 40 percent more likely to return to work compared to those who did not receive CPR.

Lead researcher Kristian Kragholm, MD, of Aalborg University Hospital and Aarhus University in Aalborg, Denmark, and colleagues published their findings online in Circulation on May 4.

They gathered data from the Danish Cardiac Arrest Registry, which includes information on the date, time, site and year of cardiac arrest. It also has information on whether someone saw the cardiac arrest and if he or she intervened.

The study included 796 adults between 18 and 65 years old who survived at least 30 days following cardiac arrest from June 1, 2001 to Dec. 31, 2011. The follow-up period ended on Feb. 24, 2013.

Of these patients, 76.6 percent returned to work. They remained employed for a median of three years when researchers did not factor in absences following their return to work. However, when researchers allowed for sickness leaves of four and 12 weeks, the median time of employment increased to five and 11 years, respectively.

People who had cardiac arrest from 2006 to 2011 were more likely to return to work compared with those who had cardiac arrest from 2001 to 2005. A multivariable analysis also found that male gender, high household income and high educational levels and bystander- and emergency medical service-witnessed arrests were associated with returning to work.

The researchers wrote that because of the observational study design, the results were associations and may not have been causations. Other potential limitations cited included some patients had missing data and only 30-day survivors who were working before their cardiac arrest were included in the analysis.