Clinical Research in Cardiology, March 2016, Vol. 105 Issue: Number 3 p257-267, 11p;
Return to work (RTW) is a pivotal goal of cardiac rehabilitation (CR) in patients after acute cardiac event. We aimed to evaluate cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPX) parameters aspredictors for RTW at discharge after CR.
We analyzed data from a registry of 489 working-age patients (51.5 ± 6.9 years, 87.9 % men) who had undergone inpatient CR predominantly after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI 62.6 %), coronary artery bypass graft (CABG 17.2 %), or heart valve replacement (9.0 %). Sociodemographic and clinical parameters, noninvasive cardiac diagnostic (2D echo, exercise ECG, 6MWT) and psychodiagnostic screening
data, as well as CPX findings, were merged with RTW data from the German statutory pension insurance program and analyzed for prognostic ability.
During a mean follow-up of 26.5 ± 11.9 months, 373 (76.3 %) patients returned to work, 116 (23.7 %) did not, and 60 (12.3 %) retired. After adjustment for covariates, elective CABG (HR 0.68, 95 % CI 0.47–0.98; p= 0.036) and work intensity (per level HR 0.83, 95 % CI 0.73-0.93; p= 0.002) were negatively associated with the probability of RTW. Exercise capacity in CPX (in Watts) and the VE/VCO2-slope had independent prognostic significance for RTW. A higher work load increased (HR 1.17, 95 % CI 1.02–1.35; p= 0.028) the probability of RTW, while a higher VE/VCO2slope decreased (HR 0.85, 95 % CI 0.76–0.96; p= 0.009) it. CPX
also had prognostic value for retirement: the likelihood of retirement decreased with increasing exercise capacity (HR 0.50, 95 % CI 0.30–0.82; p= 0.006).
CPX is a valid tool for assessing patients’ ability to return to work. Therefore, it may be an essential part of functional assessment during CR for predicting participation in employment.