I am
 Driving and travelling after a heart attack
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Explore our guide for driving and heart attack recovery.

Key takeaways

  • Before you start driving, you need to check with your doctor. 
  • There are suggested waiting times before driving again. 
  • You can usually travel straightaway as a passenger in a car, train, tram or bus.
3 min read
Getting back behind the wheel after a heart attack can be just another step in your recovery, but it’s important that you’re both ready and prepared. Explore our guide for driving and heart attack recovery.

A heart attack might stop you from driving for a little while, but most people return to it once they’ve recovered.  

After a heart attack, most people are able to travel as a passenger straight away.  

How long should you wait until driving?  

It’s important to make sure that you’re fit to drive. Always check with your doctor before you start driving any kind of vehicle again.  

Some medication can impact your ability to drive. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the side effects of your medication/s. This is very important, especially if you drive a commercial vehicle. 

Suggested waiting times before driving again 

 

Condition / Treatment 

Waiting time 

Cardiac arrest 

At least six months  

Bypass (CABG) surgery 

At least four weeks 

Heart attack 

At least two weeks 

Angiogram 

At least two days 

Angioplasty / Stent 

At least two days 


If you start driving before the end of the suggested waiting time, and you have an accident, your insurance might not cover you. You may need to inform your healthcare insurer about your heart condition to be covered. 

If you or your family feel anxious about you driving again: 

 

  • Don’t drive alone 
  • Stick to driving on routes you know 
  • Avoid peak hour traffic  
  • Try to have regular breaks on longer trips. 
If you drive a commercial vehicle (for example, a truck or forklift), be aware that there are longer waiting times before returning to driving.  

Your driver’s licence 

A heart attack doesn’t mean that you will be stopped from driving. By law, you must report a health condition that could affect your driving, this includes a heart attack. You need to report this after it happens, and not just when you next renew your licence. To check what you need to do, contact the licensing agency in your state or territory. 

The licensing agency may have some conditions or restrictions to make sure that you can drive safely. For example, your licence might require that: 

  • You stick to minimum non-driving periods 
  • You’re responding well to your treatment 
  • You have minimal symptoms that could affect driving (chest pain, palpitations, breathlessness) 
  • You see your doctor for a periodic review 
  • There’s minimal pain in your muscles and bones after bypass surgery. 
Your doctor might make recommendations about you having a conditional licence, but the licensing agency will make the final decision. It’s your responsibility to comply with any conditions on your licence.

There are also different licensing conditions you need to meet. Contact your state or territory office for more information. 

 

  • Australian Capital Territory 
  • New South Wales 
  • Northern Territory 
  • South Australia 
  • Queensland 
  • Victoria 
  • Tasmania 
  • Western Australia 

Travelling  

You can usually travel straight after your heart attack as a passenger in a car, train, tram or bus.  

Check with your doctor when you can travel by plane. You may need a medical clearance form to do so. If you’re unsure, ask the airline about any travel requirements.  

Your travel insurance cover may be affected by a new heart condition. You may require a medical assessment, and the cover may be more expensive. Talk with your doctor before buying travel insurance.

Here are some tips for travelling after a heart attack: 

 

  • Long trips may make you feel tired, or you may get car sick more easily than usual. Try to have regular breaks.  
  • When on public transport, make sure you have a seat so you don’t get too tired.  
  • If you find public transport stressful, try to arrange alternatives for the first few weeks, and avoid peak-hour traffic. 
  • If you’ve had bypass surgery, try placing a cushion, pillow or rolled-up towel between your chest and the seat belt to help to reduce pressure on the wound while it heals. 
  • Speak with your insurer – whether it’s for driving or travelling – to ensure that you’re adequately covered if anything happens.  


Find a cardiac rehabilitation program in your area

You might also be interested in

Daniel's cardiac arrest helped him discover another problem

Daniel's cardiac arrest helped him discover another problem

Daniel's cardiac arrest helped him discover another problem

Dan was six minutes into his treadmill session when his heart stopped beating....

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Action Plans

Action Plans

Action Plans

Recovery is a long journey, so having a plan makes a huge difference. Using an action plan gives you a step-by-step guide to improving your lifestyle....

Alcohol action plan

Alcohol action plan

Heart health information in your language

Heart health information in your language

A selection of heart health information brochures in a range languages...

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehab is proven to keep you out of hospital and reduce your risk of death from heart conditions....

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Emma shares her story and opens up about her emotional struggles....

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary heart disease....

Blood pressure action plan

Blood pressure action plan

Key steps that can help you manage your blood pressure....

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

This is a guide to how you might be feeling after a heart attack. ...

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

The fundraising race where you set the pace. Run, jog or walk MyMarathon at your own pace during October....

Research Directory

Research Directory

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Roast vegetable pasta

Roast vegetable pasta

30 minutes
Serves 6 (as a side)

Heart Health Network

Heart Health Network

Heart Health Network

Heart Health Network is the Heart Foundation’s newsletter for health professionals delivered to your inbox once a month....

Kids recipes

Kids recipes

Kids recipes

Find heart healthy kids recipes...

Heart medicines – Frequently asked questions

Heart medicines – Frequently asked questions

Heart medicines – Frequently asked questions

Find answers below to frequently asked questions about heart medicines. ...

Absolute CVD risk assessment resources

Absolute CVD risk assessment resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Cheesy Mexican vegetable pie

Cheesy Mexican vegetable pie

Cheesy Mexican vegetable pie

1 hour
Serves 4

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

Apricot & pecan muffin bars

30 minutes
Serves 8

Moroccan spiced fish with couscous and raisin salad

Moroccan spiced fish with couscous and raisin salad

10 minutes
Serves 4

Q&A with Dr Nathan Palpant

Q&A with Dr Nathan Palpant

Q&A with Dr Nathan Palpant

Deadly spider venom offers hope to people having a heart attack...

Key Statistics: Cardiovascular Disease

Key Statistics: Cardiovascular Disease

Statistics and information on Cardiovascular disease in Australia. ...

Donation receipts

Donation receipts

Donation receipts

Due to end of financial year and the ongoing lockdowns in several states, we are currently experiencing some delays in processing and receipting of donations....

Spinach hummus with Turkish toasts

Spinach hummus with Turkish toasts

10 minutes
Serves 8

What is a cardiac arrest?

What is a cardiac arrest?

What is a cardiac arrest?

With immediate help a cardiac arrest can be survived. Learn how to save a life....

Our Annual Reports

Our Annual Reports

Our Annual Reports

Discover our Annual reports from 2013 onwards. ...

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

What is a heart attack?

The most common cause of a heart attack is coronary heart disease....

Philanthropic investments

Philanthropic investments

Philanthropic investments

Making philanthropic investments through the Heart Foundation can transform Australians’ health. ...

Q&A with Dr Susie Cartledge

Q&A with Dr Susie Cartledge

Q&A with Dr Susie Cartledge

Breaking down the silos - a pathway from acute hospital care to cardiac rehabilitation ...

What is angina?

What is angina?

What is angina?

Angina is a type of chest pain or discomfort that’s a symptom of an underlying heart problem, usually coronary heart disease (CHD)....

Nutrition Resources for Patients

Nutrition Resources for Patients

Nutrition Resources for Patients

Resources to help people follow a heart healthy eating pattern in their daily lives. ...

Queensland Cardiovascular Research Network

Queensland Cardiovascular Research Network

Queensland Cardiovascular Research Network

QCVRN provides a framework to strengthen cardiovascular research in Queensland...

Snack recipes

Snack recipes

Snack recipes

Search for healthy snack ideas...

Automated Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD or AICD)

Automated Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD or AICD)

This is a device inserted into your chest to return abnormal heart rhythms to normal using electrical impulses. ...

What is heart valve disease?

What is heart valve disease?

What is heart valve disease?

Heart valve disease means that your heart valve or valves don't open or close properly....

What is heart disease?

What is heart disease?

What is heart disease?

Heart disease is the broad term for conditions that affect the structure and function of the heart muscle. ...

Coronary Angiogram Test

Coronary Angiogram Test

This is a common test done to find out angina symptoms, or during or after a heart attack. ...

Our research stories

Our research stories

Our research stories

We fund amazing researchers who have important stories to tell...

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Heart Age Calculator

Could you be at risk of heart disease? Get your estimated heart age now....