congenital heart disease/driving - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation
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congenital heart disease/driving


Hi does anyone know if you can still drive with congenital heart disease, I really did not know you are supposed to let DVLA know about this, I have been driving over 30 years... what will happen if I tell them now? could I be prosecuted.... really worried thanks.

8 Replies
skid112Heart Star


I don't think they will take retrospective action. Having looked at the form they do not ask when this was diagnosed, but they do ask permission to access your medical records. I think failure to notify now would be more likely to result in a fine.

All my own opinion of course, you might call them and ask on behalf of a 'friend'

Good luck


in reply to skid112

Thanks Mark, as this is something you are born with, not sure what they will do now. I was really surprised after reading the list, and it makes me wonder just how many people are driving around with conditions the DVLA are unaware of.

A friend of mine suffers from depression/anxiety which is on the list, when I told her she had no idea she was supposed to inform DVLA her opinion was that your GP should inform you about this, but I think the responsibility lies with the patient!!.


Hi chrissy99 the BHF has some advice on driving with a heart condition. Best thing to do to find out if you need to tell the DVLA is visit Directgov: Hope this helps!

in reply to Helen_BHF

Thanks for that Helen, I will look at that.

I will second that I think it is unlikely they will take retrospective action and at worst it will be a fine. I do not think they can do more unless it has actually caused an accident. However, unfortunately, the same advice that goes for travelling with medication. Ignorance will not be a defence. The DVLA make this information very readily available.

Unlike congenital heart disease, anxiety and depression disclosure is not compulsory (for car licence). This is unless it is likely to affect you driving. i.e.: If depression has lead to suicidal or self-harming thoughts, or cognitive impairment then yes it must be declared. As such it is very likely if the GP has not told your friend to declare it may not be necessary. Depression and anxiety are also listed as some of the medications people take for them can affect their ability to drive, hence their inclusion with the statement "if your condition will affect your driving."

As a congenital heart patient with a driving licence myself, what will happen now you declare is that they will contact your consultant to request information on your condition and compare their findings against the criteria for fitness to drive.

The result of which can be:

(a) Licence is revoked- and maybe temporarily revoked while they conduct their investigation (b) Licence reissued with restricted validity so they can carry out increased checks on your fitness to drive- initially due to sudden collapse my provisional was only valid for three years then had to be renewed.

(c) A normal standard 10 year licence is issued subject to medical review at renewal- after my initial 3 year licence was up renewal the medical review deemed me fit for a normal licence as I had no further collapses and a medtronic reveal had shown without dispute that their was no underlying arrhythmia.

Thanks for the information Midgeymoo, very informative, just wondering you being a CHD patient, what type of exercise you can do comfortably. I have just recently found out I have been doing the wrong type all of my life. I blame my parents for not telling me anything about my condition, only that I was cured after my surgery as a child, which now I know is not correct.

I have never had any life long follow ups, and am wondering if this is just for certain types of CHD so many questions ....I am only now at 56 learning about my condition.

In general yes it is only certain CHD that require lifelong follow up. These include complex, cyanotic and simple defects that have resulted in complications.

However it is recommended (and the right enshrined in NHS policy) that all adults with CHD see a congenital heart specialist at a specialist centre at least once in their adult life. This allows the cardiologist to provide you and your GP with detailed information on what to look for and what symptoms you must get rerefered for.

In earnest most specialist centres prefer to keep patients on follow up list even if it is a defect that does not really need it. In this case the centres typically arrange to see the patient once every 5 years. (Yes this genuinely happens). So I would recommend finding your nearest specialist centre and asking your GP to send a referral. I can help you with this over the weekend if you PM me which region of the country you are located in and your defect name.

Personally I had a complex cyanotic combination of congenital heart defects called tetralogy of fallots. The exercise advice I am given: (a) No scuba diving cannot remember why (b) do not exercise beyond your ability to have a conversation in sense clauses (c) resistance training is fine weight lifting is not. This leaflet was written by my specialist centre and the congenital heart nurses there:

Personally I am not the best at following doctors orders and have recently entered a half marathon because I want to. But true to doctors orders I have never weight lifted and I try hard to stick to aerobic exercise and not go past conversational level.

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