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British Heart Foundation
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Finding work with heart failure

I have lived with heart failure for 3.5 years. I recently signed on for JSA for part time work and not too manual. I got an interview with a store, filling shelves, but didn’t get the job. It was mentioned at the interview my ability to physically do the job. The JSA have told me to see my doctor to see if he will put me on ESA as they will assess and advise what I can and can’t do work wise.

I am 58 which it’s-self is a obstacle for getting back to work. I am used to manual work but I think I will have to retrain for other work.

I am still fit with New York class 1 heart failure thingy, but I am unreliable. I am as reliable as my medication allows, what I do today effects tomorrow.

What experience have you had finding work? I know it’s a zillion times easier if you were already working when getting sick. What experience have you had with the doctor about getting a long term sick note?

And on final note I want a job that I will enjoy because like we all know we don’t know what’s around the corner. I have ten years until I retire, ten years is a long time with heart failure.

9 Replies

My 23 year old granddaughter has the same problem. She has hypoplastic left heart, has Fontan circulation and on Warfarin. Apparently deemed fit to work part time.. Job centre don't agree. Long term sick note has now been stopped as non medical assessment say she is fit to work. GP and cardiologist do not agree. Impossible situation for working age people with long term heart conditions


It's sad to hear about your granddaughter being only 23, at least I have had some sort of career. From what you hear about the ESA they are there to cut benefits at any expense, but all there doing is moving you on to the JSA which is still a benefit.


That's really tough. I agree it's much easier if you are lucky enough to be in work when diagnosed. My employers have been really supportive since I was diagnosed with heart failure six years ago. My job is not at all manual (entirely desk based) but I've still reduced my hours a lot to find a balance that means I'm able to enjoy life outside of work too. As you say, what you do today can have a big impact on what you're able to do tomorrow and you want to enjoy life, not just spend your free time recovering for your next shift.

What I can and can't do is not always consistent. There are some very physical activities I find surprisingly easy (e.g. walking or going to the gym) and others that are inexplicably hard (e.g. hanging up washing or packing my bags at the supermarket). If I was looking for work, I think I'd find it really hard to say reliably what I could or couldn't do.

Sorry I have no useful/practical insights, but I hope it helps you to know there are others who sympathise with your situation. Good luck with it all x


Thanks for your reply

Seeing the doctor next week to see what options are available, if he says I am fit for some work (which I am), then I'll ask for a review of my medication. I've been taking the same dosage for 3.5 years and the side effects are increasing, I find the medication causes most of my problems which stop me performing daily tasks, eg aching muscles and joints.

I know what you mean about certain activities you used to take for granted, I can walk a long way and do quite a bit of manual work in the garden but I find it hard to wash my hair in the shower without a rest and cleaning the windows gives the muscles a good pump.


To be honest the whole JSA/ESA issue is a nightmare. About five years ago I lost my job less than two weeks before I was scheduled for surgery. My GP signed me off and I went onto ESA. A couple of months later I was still signed off as I was also suffering with my back (L4 and L5 prolapsed causing lower backpain and sciatica) I was called in for an ATOS assessment. In my view this was “not fit for purpose”. Then a few weeks later I got a phone call saying that my ESA would be stopped with immediate effect and I would have to go onto JSA. My doctors were not happy with this but as I had already started to look for a suitable job I decided not to appeal. The problem is that the Job Centre has a one size fits all policy and threaten to stop your benefits if you do not apply for a certain number of jobs per week. To fulfil this, you end up wasting your time applying for jobs you know you will not get. Only one member of staff, who was around my age, seemed to understand the issues I was facing (ageism and some health problems). His colleague told me ageism does not exist as it is illegal and proceed to show me how to search on Universal Job Match – a total insult as I had 30 years IT experience., Eventually she farmed me off to a charity they use for difficult cases – this was better in that you could get a coffee and use the loo (the job centre one was barred to job seekers). However, they were of no real use. Eventually I found a job after doing my own thing and writing a CV my way; i.e. there is no need to put school in if yu have gone on to higher education, don’t edit it short if you have relevant experience, etc. My employers have let me reduce my hours when I started getting very tire pre-diagnosis.

I know of two people who were very much not fit for work classified as fit by ATOS (now replaced but probably no better) and yet of two people I would say were fit classified as unfit! Its all totally bizarre!



Thanks for your reply. Some of the JSA understand but one or two do act as though your taking money out their pocket. But the real problem as been around about 20 years, a lack of decent jobs.


Hi Howard,

I am in the same boat as you. Same length of time with these heart issues.

Same amount of time since my company started treating me like a second class citersan.

They put me on this government system after my bypass Nov 2016.

You take a year out unpaid, then go back on there terms. They only have to keep a position with the company open. Where and what you now do in the company is up to them. I was told I would go back on 0 hours and where they decided they wanted me to go. Not necessarily back to my old department.

From the way they had treated me for the couple of tears after my HA. I didn't exactly have confidence in them being anymore supportive now.

They basically made my life a nightmare, unsuppoted and bullied the whole time.

They caught me at my most vulnerable and took advantage of the situation.

Of course due to my vulnerability from having the heart attack. It was easy for them to start their constructive dismissal. I have no concreate proff of this, so there was no point evan going there of trying to prove what they had been up to. It is all just here say, my word against theirs.

Anyway the DWP paid me sick pay as my company said I had not earnt enough money the previous year. Which was due to them gradully cutting my hours by putting me on jobs that were too physical for me. This was all evan though OPH had told them exactly what I was able to do.

They are a huge multi billion pound company. Some of their staff like with all companies and organisation, find their way around the rules with bullying colleagues into doing things their way.

Well some of the management do in the indervigual branches anyway. I know it isn't regular practice with all management across the entire company of course.

However, from what I can gather, as much as the company show these videos to the employees. Of don't allow yourself to be bullied by other staff members. To stop this from happening is easier said than done.

Anyway, I decided that I wouldn't return after my year was up on the 31/12/17.

I have just had an assessment last Sat to see my fitness for work.

The assessor stopped the assessment after seeing my blood pressure was so high.

So who knows if they will stop it in a couple of weeks.

I am hoping to find some kind of job club for advise on where to go next 😊



Thanks for your reply

I know it’s difficult enough to come to terms with a heart problem without having to think about getting a job or retaining because you can no longer do your old job. I believe the JSA do have a retraining scheme which I will have too look into and see what happens.


I have heard of comp[anise suggesting people get themselves registered as disabled as this helps their "equality" quotas. In general Human Remains are the pits, in particular when they are outdourced!


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