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Unemployment Linked to Increased Risk of Death in Patients with Heart Failure

May 01, 2017 10:33 AM EDT

A new observational study of more than 20,000 patients with heart failure revealed that not being employed will more likely increase the likelihood of death compared to history of stroke and diabetes.

The study, presented at the Heart Failure 2017 and the 4th World Congress on Acute Heart Failure, showed that heart failure patients who were unemployed have 50 percent higher risk of death.

"We found that heart failure patients out of the workforce at baseline had a higher risk of death. Not being part of the workforce was associated with a risk of death comparable to that of having diabetes or stroke," said Dr. Rasmus Roerth, a physician at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark and lead author of the study, in a press release. "Those without a job also had an increased risk of recurrent heart failure hospitalization."

For the study, the researchers enrolled all patients within the working age in Denmark who had their first hospitalization for heart failure between 1997 and 2012. In total, the study included 21,455 patients. Out of those, 11,880 (55 percent) were part of the workforce at baseline.

After 1,005 days, the researchers conducted a follow-up on the patients. Overall, 16 percent of the employed patients and 31 percent of the unemployed patients died within the study period. Meanwhile, 40 percent of the employed and 42 percent of the unemployed were readmitted to the hospital due to heart failure.

After taking into account several factors -- including, sex, age, education level and comorbidities -- the researchers found heart failure patients who were unemployed at baseline have 50 percent increased risk of death and 12 percent increased risk of being readmitted.

The researchers noted that the exact mechanism on how employment status influences the likelihood of death is still unclear. Aside from giving the necessary daily physical needs, being employed is also associated to better mental health and well-being.

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