Most adults return to work within a year after acute MI

An analysis of adults between 18 and 55 years old who had an acute MI found that women were less likely overall to return to work compared with men following their illness.

However, after adjusting for patient sociodemographics, health status, psychosocial factors and other factors, the researchers said there was no statistically significant difference between women and men in their likelihood of returning to work.

Lead researcher Rachel P. Dreyer, PhD, of the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues published their results online in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes on Feb. 23.

They examined data from 1,680 patients who participated in the VIRGO (Variation in Recovery: Role of Gender on Outcomes of Young AMI Patients) study and worked at least 35 hours per week before having an acute MI. Patients enrolled in the study between August 2008 and January 2012 at 103 U.S. hospitals, 24 Spanish hospitals and three Australian hospitals.

The researchers obtained patients’ baseline characteristics from their medical charts and conducted interviews when they were admitted to the hospital and 12 months after their acute MI.

The analysis included 962 women and 719 men. Women were more likely to be black, to be unmarried, to have more than a high school education and to have had fewer and/or no children living in the household compared with men. Women also worked fewer hours per week and were more likely to work in professional or clerical roles.

At 12 months, 85 percent of women and 89 percent of men returned to work. The reasons they did not return to work were similar. The researchers mentioned 6 percent of women and 3 percent of men preferred not to work, 32 percent of women and 33 percent of men were fired and/or lost their job and the remainder were no longer able to work.

A multivariable logistic regression analysis found several factors were associated with increased rates of returning to work at 12 months, including being married, engaging in professional or clerical work compared with manual work, having more favorable physical health and having no prior coronary artery disease.

The researchers said that patients who work in manual or semi-skilled jobs may require support or training to return to work. They added that cardiac rehabilitation or home healthcare may help patients return to work.

They also cited a few limitations of the study, including that they did not have detailed information on psychosocial aspects of the work environment such as stress, social support, job satisfaction and motivation to resume work. In addition, they had missing data on return to work at 12 months and did not have information on why some patients said they were not able to work.