Returning to work after a heart attack

Returning to work - Iain Lynch

Returning to your job can be a vital part of recovering from a heart event. Sarah Brealey gets tips from an expert and meets three people who made the transition back to work.

A heart attack, surgery or diagnosis can affect every area of your life – including work. This worries a lot of people, says Maria Davies, a Senior Occupational Therapist working in cardiac rehab.

“It’s common to be apprehensive about the future. Often, people diagnosed with heart disease think they will never be able to go back to work,” she says.

“That’s usually not the case if fears are addressed early on; this helps people begin the process.” Maria works for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board in Gwent, Wales and has a keen interest in workplace issues.

Getting the right support and an appropriate planned and phased return, can make getting back to work much easier

Maria Davies
Senior Occupational Therapist

Her occupational therapy training enables her to address the physical, psychological and social difficulties people may face when returning to work. She links in with employers to explain conditions and give advice on any adjustments needed. She also works with patients, setting goals for a realistic phased return.

Employees also have legal rights and can access financial help. “Under the Equality Act 2010, employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to prevent an employee being at a disadvantage because of their health condition,” says Maria.

She explains that once employers are given an explanation and support, most are keen to help their staff. “Where needed, I will work with the local Disability Employment Adviser or Access to Work Advisers when issues are more complex or when financial grants are needed to adapt the workplace.”

Maria adds that getting the right support and an appropriate planned and phased return, can make getting back to work much easier.

Related publications