Research Article

Return to work and quality of life after surgery for coronary artery disease.

Br Med J 1979; 2 doi: (Published 27 October 1979) Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;2:1028
  1. S Westaby,
  2. R N Sapsford,
  3. H H Bentall


    Changes in work capability and quality of life were assessed retrospectively in 130 patients with ischaemic heart disease who had undergone aortocoronary bypass operations during 1976-7 because of medically uncontrollable angina. A total of 85 patients (65.4%) reported complete relief from angina six months after operation, though 12 later suffered a recurrence. Substantially fewer patients needed drugs after the operation. Before operation 9 out of 117 men fully employed at the onset of angina were working without restriction or doing lighter, fulltime work, 38 were at work but seriously incapacitated by angina, and 70 were forced to stop work. After operation 70 were working without restriction or engaged in lighter work, 15 were at work but still restricted by angina, and only 32 were forced to stop work. This result was highly significant (P less than 0.001). These differences were even more pronounced in heavy manual workers, of whom none cobld work normally before operation, whereas 16 were working without restriction afterwards. Of patients wishing to engage in hobbies or sports, social activity, and sexual intercourse but were restricted before operation, about two-thirds could resume these activities afterwards. Coronary artery surgery provided dramatic symptomatic relief in up to 90% of patients and permitted rehabilitation and return to gainful employment irrespective of type of labour. The degree of symptomatic improvement and increase in exercise tolerance after successful surgery is usually far greater than occurs with any other form of treatment and directly improves quality of life and work capability.