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Arrhythmia Alliance
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Guidance wanted after having an ICD fitted

Hi, My husband who is 66 and still working full time collapsed at home at the beginning of June. He was taken to hospital where tests revealed he had an abnormal heart rhythm. It was also revealed that at sometime in the past he had had a heart attack (unknown to him). After several days and extensive tests he was fitted with an ICD and told he was not to drive for six months. I filled out the online DVLA form to explain what had happened and we received a letter back telling him he could drive after one month. My husband contacted them and told them that the hospital said six months and the operator conferred with a supervisor and said it's not six months it's one month. We looked at the government guidelines on the internet and there were several reasons given for having an ICD fitted and the driving situation was different for each one. My husband again rang the DVLA and the operator asked about my husbands admission to hospital and then said he could drive after one month as he wasn't taken in with a heart attack. My husband has no intention of driving until we can see the hospital doctor at his check up on the 17th of July. I was wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience to this and what the outcome was. Also, do you find it makes a tremendous difference to your holiday insurance as we are going abroad in September and are slightly worried about the cost of insurance. I also would like to know that when travelling abroad do you need to take anything with you apart from the medical card that he needs to carry at all times. So sorry that this is a long post but we are just getting used to the situation. Any replies would be most welcome. Kindest regards.

8 Replies

Hi, the information given to you is correct. I am a DVSA Approved Driving Instructor and have also had an ICD fitted. If the device is fitted for prophylactic reasons, i.e. as a precaution against further cardiac events then you are allowed to drive after one month. If it was as a result of a heart attack then it would be 6 months. I regret I have no idea about travel insurance as we haven't been able to travel due to my wife suffering from Scleroderma and my cardiac history making our foreign holidays a thing of the past!


Hi Retail, what Twonk said is correct. All you need abroad is your meds & your ICD card / paper explaining what type of device you have got fitted.

I had ICD device fitted August 2016 all went well, however I don't drive anymore, because of family wishes.

Good luck for the future ........



Insurance can be prohibitive. I have Afib and regularly spend 3 months a year abroad - EU. I only take the usual EHIC card which allows for the same cover as the nationals of the particular country you are visiting. Because we were unsure if this cover would continue after Brexit, I enquired at Saga about private insurance for a continuous 3 months period. I was quoted £1700! I have no other health problems. I think a shorter time away is a lot cheaper but it will still be expensive. In France you get 65% of any treatment paid for. (Reclaimed from the NHS) The remaining 35% has to be paid by you.


Thank you so very much for your replies this is a very informative site. Kindest regards.


Hi there, sorry to hear of your husbands troubles. My husband has had similar problems, is 65 and he too had an ICD fitted 6 weeks ago. With regard to the driving issue , as far as I am aware if you are shocked you cannot drive for 6 months. My husband was driving after his heart attack. His license was returned to DVLA for 6 months after he needed a shock to restore his heart to a normal rhythm. He was then told he needed an ICD fitted . We too are at the start of the journey and there is a lot to take in. He cannot go back to work without his car so sadly it looks like he will retire. Good luck to you both!


Hi, Thank you for your reply. I do hope your husband enjoys his retirement and hope you have a long and happy life together.


Hi, I hope I can add a little to this discussion. I too have had an ICD fitted as the second line of defence (after medication) after a sustained VT attack. After surrendering my licence three months ago I was on the DVLA website looking at how and when to reapply when I noticed that for my condition (Arrythmogenic RV Cardiomyopathy) the surrender time was only one month.

I rang the DVLA and they agreed but with one important condition. If I had an ICD whose role was to apply a defibrolate only, then I need wait only one month. If it also included pacemaking functions (even if, as in my case, they were just precautionary) then it was six months. I did query this as 'my' ICD only provided extra functions because it could, rather than needing too but they did confirm - one month for plain ICD, six months if pacing features are available.

If anyone has been advised otherwise I would be pleased to hear!


Hi, As the originator of this discussion I would just like to update you. My husband has been to the hospital today for his first check up and we told them that the DVLA has told us twice that he only needs one month off driving. However, as he passed out (very briefly) before being admitted to hospital for tests the nurse said that this definitely required the full six months away from driving. I do hope this helps as the DVLA don't seem to be very medically aware.


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