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First published on ScienceDaily.com

The full financial cost of a heart attack or stroke is twice as much as the medical costs when lost work time for patients and caregivers is included.

That’s the finding of research published today, World Health Day, in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).1 The study concludes that victims of heart attack and stroke who return to work are 25% less productive in their first year back.

In the year after the event, heart patients lost 59 workdays and caregivers lost 11 workdays, for an average cost of €13,953, and ranging from €6,641 to €23,160 depending on the country. After stroke, 56 workdays were lost by patients and 12 by caregivers, for an average €13,773, ranging from €10,469 to €20,215.

Study author Professor Kornelia Kotseva, of Imperial College London, UK, said: “Patients in our study returned to work, meaning their events were relatively mild. Some still had to change jobs or careers, or work less, and caregivers lost around 5% of work time. Not included in our study are those with more severe events who quit work altogether and presumably need even more help from family and friends.”

The study enrolled 394 patients from seven European countries — 196 with acute coronary syndrome (86% heart attack, 14% unstable chest pain) and 198 with stroke — who returned to work 3 to 12 months after the event. Patients completed a questionnaire2,3 during a visit to a cardiologist, neurologist, or stroke physician. Hours lost were valued according to country labour costs in 2018. The average age of patients was 53 years.

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According to published estimates for Europe, the direct medical costs of acute coronary syndrome are €1,547 to €18,642, and €5,575 to €31,274 for stroke.4 “This is the metric commonly used to estimate the costs of medical conditions while indirect costs from productivity loss are often not taken into account by clinicians, payers or policymakers,” said Professor Kotseva. “Taken together, the actual burden on society is more than twice the amount previously reported.”

You can read the full article here.