Returning to work

A man and woman look at documents together in their office

Most people can return to work even if they have been diagnosed with a heart condition, or had a heart attack or heart procedure.

However, it's natural to feel worried about how soon you can go back to work and whether you can carry on doing the same job you were doing before.

When can I return to work?

The type of heart condition you have, how severe it is, how quickly you recover, and whether your condition is stable will be major factors in how soon you can return to work. You’re more likely to be able to work if your condition is stable and the symptoms are well controlled. It will also depend on what type of work you do.

Your GP or heart specialist will help you decide when you are fit enough to return to work. They will also help you to decide whether you can return to full-time work straight away or if it would be advisable to work part-time to begin with.

Can I go back to the same job?

You might go back to exactly the same job you were doing before or you might need to talk to your employer about making changes to your workload or role. This may be temporary or permanent.

If your job involves driving, you will need to check with the DVLA (who provide advice on national guidelines for driving) and your employer about any restrictions that may apply to you.

You might even decide to give up your current job and retrain for a job that will suit you better.

Can I do manual work?

If you do manual work that involves lifting or moving heavy objects, or operating heavy equipment, you should talk to your GP or heart specialist about it.

If they tell you to avoid it, talk to your employer about what changes they can make to your role to allow you to continue your employment. This will not always be possible but most employers will do what they can to help you.

If you get chest pain or discomfort at any time you shouldn't lift heavy objects or operate heavy equipment unless your doctor has said that it's alright for you to do so. If you feel short of breath or get palpitations with heavy lifting you should also talk to your doctor.

Some of the medications you have been prescribed may also mean that you cannot operate heavy machinery. Check and consult with your doctor or pharmacist.

Will my pacemaker or ICD affect my job?

As a result of your heart condition you may have had a pacemaker  or ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator) fitted. Speak to your safety officer at your place of work about any magnets, electromagnets or other equipment used. If you are worried about any of the equipment used, your pacemaker or ICD clinic will be able to advise you.

Visit the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) website too for the latest information.

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