Driving with a heart condition

For safety reasons the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) has strict guidelines about who may and may not drive.

If any of the drugs you are taking for your heart give you side effects which may affect your driving (e.g. drowsiness) then you are not allowed to drive.two older people driving

Angina

If you ever experience angina while driving stop the car safely - immediately.

Group 1 Licence Holders: Motorcars and Motorcycles:

  • Driving must cease when symptoms of angina occur at rest or at the wheel. Driving may recommence when symptoms are well controlled.
  • Driving must cease for one week following angioplasty and four weeks following bypass surgery (CABG). The DVLA need not be notified.

Group 2 Licence Holders: Lorries and Buses:

  • You are not always allowed to drive with a diagnosis of angina. Re-licensing may be permitted when you have been free from angina for at least six weeks, provided that the exercise requirements can be met and there is no other disqualifying condition.
  • You are disqualified for six weeks following angioplasty and three months after bypass surgery (CABG). You must notify the DVLA.

Your insurance will be invalid if you have to make a claim and have not notified the DVLA of any problems when required to do so.

If you are in any doubt about your fitness to drive please consult your doctor.

Pacemakers

You must inform the DVLA that you have a pacemaker.

If you drive a car, motorcycle or light goods vehicle (Group 1) you must not drive for one week following surgery.

If however you drive large goods or passenger carrying vehicles (Group 2), you are disqualified from driving for 6 weeks. Re-licensing after this time will be with a short-term 3 year licence and you will require a cardiac assessment to qualify.

ICDs (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators)

Restrictions on driving, and whether you need to tell the DVLA, vary depending on the reason you have an ICD and if it has ever fired. You must ask your doctor, or contact the DVLA, for guidance about your situation.

If you are a Group 2 driver (i.e. lorries and buses) you are permanently barred from driving and you must notify the DVLA.

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Heart attack

Sometimes there are complications after a heart attack such as angina and arrhythmias. These have to be stable and symptom free before driving can be resumed.

If your work involves driving then you must inform your employer. The following guidelines do not take into account any special conditions your employer might apply in your contract.

Group 1 Licence Holders: Motorcars and Motorcycles:

When you can start to drive again depends on what treatment you received immediately after your heart attack:

  • If you were successfully treated by coronary angioplasty then you can start to drive 1 week after your heart attack as long as your doctor says you are fit, no other urgent treatment is planned and there is no other disqualifying condition.
  • If you were not successfully treated with coronary angioplasty you are disqualified from driving for 4 weeks. After this time you may return to driving if your doctor says you are fit and there is no other disqualifying condition.

The DVLA need not be notified in both of these cases.

Group 2 Licence Holders: Lorries and Buses:

  • In this case you are disqualified from driving for at least 6 weeks and the DVLA and your insurance company must be notified.
  • Re-licensing may be permitted after this time if the exercise test requirements can be met and there is no other disqualifying condition.

Your insurance will be invalid if you have to make a claim and have not notified the DVLA of any problems when required to do so.

High blood pressure

Group 1 Licence Holders: Motorcars and Motorcycles:

  • You only have to stop driving if your drugs give you side effects such as drowsiness or dizziness.

DVLA need not be notified.

Group 2 Licence Holders: Lorries and Buses:

  • You will not be allowed to drive if your resting blood pressure is consistently 180 mm Hg (systolic) or more and / or 100 mm Hg (diastolic) or more.
  • Re-licensing may be permitted when your blood pressure is controlled.

The DVLA and your insurance company must be notified.

Tips about resuming driving

two people on mobility scooters

  • Start driving again in easy stages
  • Avoid heavy traffic and motorways until you know you can cope
  • Give yourself plenty of time for your journey
  • Do not drive for longer than 2 hours without a break
  • Try to keep calm and relaxed. If you find driving stressful, leave it for a while until you feel a bit better

If you are in any doubt about your fitness to drive please consult your doctor.

Useful contacts

Full information is contained in the Medical Standards of Fitness to Drive available from the DVLA.

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