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Return to work after a heart attack? Most people do

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May 10, 2019—Would you go back to work after having had a heart attack?

Most people can—and do. According to a paper published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, up to 93% of people return to work a few months after having had a heart attack. One in four, however, quit after a year.

Among people older than 55, women are less likely than men to go back on the job. Blue collar workers may have a tougher time returning to work if they have a heart condition that affects their physical abilities to do their job.

Psychological factors can make a return to work more difficult too. People who are depressed or anxious are less likely to go back to their job. The same goes for people who feel less confident after their heart attack.

The paper's authors generally recommend people return to the job they had before their heart attack. If they can't keep up with the workload, they may want to talk with their supervisor about giving up some of their responsibilities for a while.

The authors offer this advice to someone who wants to return to work after a heart attack:

  • Enroll in a cardiac rehabilitation program. According to the authors, half of those who are eligible for such a program don't take advantage of it.
  • Get back in the work saddle gradually, if you feel the need. Work less hours when you first go back. Take more breaks. Or work at home once a week, if possible.
  • Stay in close contact with your primary care provider.
Find out more about cardiac rehabilitation and how it can help after you've had a heart attack or have been diagnosed with another heart condition.
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