Cardiovascular disease and stroke are the most common causes of death worldwide, resulting in hospitalization, disability and loss of income. For example, one-third of heart attacks, 25 percent of strokes and 40 percent of cardiac arrests occur in people of working age under age 65.
The current study evaluates the effect of these conditions on the labor market and compares outcomes of people aged 40 to 61 years who were working before their event with controls who had not experienced a stroke or cardiac event. To rule out any temporary labor market effects due to health issues, the researchers looked at employment three years after the initial event, eurekalert.org wrote.
“Three years after admission to hospital for any of these health events, people who survived were less likely than the matched participants to be working and had greater losses in annual earnings,” said Dr. Allan Garland, professor of medicine and co-head of the Community Health Sciences at the Section of Critical Care Medicine of University of Manitoba, Health Sciences Center in Winnipeg.
“The loss in earnings was substantial, with reductions ranging from eight percent to 31 percent. Even if people were able to work, their incomes in the third year after the event were five percent to 20 percent less than before.”
The effects for stroke were the highest, with 31 percent decrease compared with 23 percent for cardiac arrest and eight percent for acute myocardial infarction.
“Unemployment and lost earning owing to common health events have broad societal relevance, with consequences for patients, families and governments, such as bankruptcy, worsening health and lost productivity,” said Garland.
Being employed is associated with well-being and life satisfaction. The researchers hope that the study will help in developing interventions and policies to support people to return to work, although more research is needed.