Heart attack

Returning to driving

People who drive a car or motorcycle do not have to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) after a heart attack. However, the DVLA strongly recommends that they stop driving for at least four weeks after a heart attack and only restart driving when their doctor tells them that they are safe to do so. A few found this difficult if they lived in rural or semi-rural areas.

Most people we talked to felt confident enough to start driving again after this time. A few commented that their partners were more concerned about it than they were. One woman who lived on her own, said she found it daunting at first driving on her own at night and the first time she did it, she had a panic attack.

People who drive large goods vehicles (LGV) or a passenger-carrying vehicles (PCV), have to inform the DVLA about their heart attack and they will be temporarily suspended, for a minimum of six weeks, until they have adequately recovered. Their license will be reissued after passing a basic health and fitness test as long as they do not have any other condition or complication that would disqualify them from driving. One man described how he prepared for the various exercise tests he needed to pass in order to get his HGV licence agreed.

Some said they now preferred not to drive long distances. One man, who had been used to driving long distances up until his heart attack, no longer did, and if he needed to, made sure he had an overnight stay. For driving after coronary artery bypass surgery (see 'Recovering from coronary artery bypass surgery').

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Last reviewed March 2013.

Last updated March 2013.

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