New study looks at financial fallout from heart attack, stroke

A new study says middle-aged Canadians who've had a heart attack, stroke or cardiac arrest are less likely to be working three years later -- and those who can keep working often experience a significant drop in income.

Researchers, lead by Dr. Allan Garland, an internal medicine specialist at the University of Manitoba, evaluated the long-term effects of cardiovascular events on people's capacity to work and any changes in their annual earnings.

One-third of heart attacks, a quarter of strokes and 40 per cent of cardiac arrests occur in working-age people under 65 and can result in lingering physical and/or cognitive disabilities.

Looking at data from 2005-to-2013 the researchers found the financial fallout from suffering a stroke was the most significant, with a 31 per cent drop in earning power, compared to 23 per cent for cardiac arrest -- in which the heart suddenly stops beating -- and eight per cent for heart attack.

The study, published in today's Canadian Medical Association Journal, linked hospitalization data and tax returns to compare more than 24-thousand Canadians aged 40 to 61 who suffered a heart attack, stroke or cardiac arrest against age-matched peers who hadn't experienced one of those life-threatening events.