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Learning to Drive Again after a Heart Attack

silbchris January 25, 2022
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Heart attacks cause a lot of change in your life. Suddenly, you have routine doctors’ appointments and new medication and are encouraged to start a new healthy lifestyle.

It can be frustrating. You might find your family and friends treat you differently; they might mollycoddle you or become overprotective. While this is done with the best intentions, it’s normal to want independence.

One thing that brings many people independence is driving. You can go wherever you want, whenever you want – the open road is yours! However, has this independence gone after a heart attack?

Can you drive after a heart attack?

This will depend on several factors. The severity of the attack, any surgery, and the type of vehicle you drive would have to be considered. For further help, check if you’re able to drive again on the government website.

Even if you can drive again, the DVLA recommends you take a week’s break from driving after a heart attack. However, you do not have to inform the DVLA if you’ve had a heart attack or a heart, cardiac or coronary angioplasty. Yet, you do have to tell them if you have a pacemaker. Not doing so could lead to a fine of up to £1,000.

Although this sounds confusing, your doctor or specialist will keep you right.

Learning to Drive Again

If you can return to driving after your heart attack, here are some tips…

1. Start small

Now is not the time to go on a road trip. While your return to driving is exciting, it should be done with caution. Start with short trips to local destinations that aren’t too far away. Week by week, as you grow stronger, you can build upon this and drive further.

2. Take a passenger

Just in case you’re struggling, it’s best to have a friend or family member in the car with you. They should provide support and encouragement.

3. Avoid rush hour

To remove any unnecessary stress from driving, try to drive before or after rush hour. This will allow you to get comfortable driving again without any added pressure.

4. Take breaks

For those slightly longer journeys, make sure to take plenty of breaks. This is help with stress management and allow you to breathe.

5. Stay calm

Most importantly, remember to stay calm. Don’t give in to road rage and breathe deeply to keep feelings of anxiety at bay.

Get back on the road

Driving can be stressful for many people, so make sure you’re not returning to something that would negatively affect your heart. Always include your doctor in any decisions you make, and ensure you listen to their expert advice.

If you do decide to return to driving, enjoy your freedom!

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