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 Driving and travelling after a heart attack
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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.  


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