FIOH: focusing research activities

Photo by Elina Manninen

Cardiovascular diseases and work ability

In a research project coordinated by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, prognosis of work ability was examined in several study cohorts. Among the Swedish general population, a quarter of those who had a new CHD (coronary heart disease) or stroke event during working-age were already on work disability pension due to some other reason. Among those active in the labour market, sickness absence rates among those who got an event were similar to the general population 4 years before the event. After a CVD (cardiovascular disease) event, a 6-fold increase was observed in work disability days among people with heart disease, and a 14-fold increase among people with stroke. Disability days levelled off particularly in CHD but there were subgroups with high post-event disability: unemployed, immigrants and those with comorbid depression or diabetes.

In a Finnish study cohort, obesity and comorbid mental disorder increased the risk of permanent work disability among employees with cardiometabolic disease (CHD, stroke or diabetes) while psychosocial factors at work had a minor effect. In the same study cohort, both cardiovascular disease and low occupational position were associated with a twofold risk of work disability. However, low occupational position and CVD together were associated with a 4.5-fold risk.

These studies increase the understanding of work disability associated with cardiovascular diseases and can be used in policy focusing on extended working lives. As cardiovascular diseases no longer lead to permanent work disability and death as often as before, it is important to support work ability among people with these diseases.

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