How Long After ICD Can I Drive (And Why)?

Exact Answer: About 6 months

The heart is the most important organ of the human body and it is always given utmost importance in medical emergencies. Heart problems are always treated with utmost caution. Medical science has now advanced enough that most of the health problems related to the heart can be treated very precisely and to a high rate of success.

Doctors can now solve just about any heart disease or irregular condition. One such instance is that of arrhythmia. Arrhythmia is a condition of the heart wherein the beating of the heart is irregular, either too fast or too slow or such. This requires immediate medical attention.

How Long After ICD Can I Drive?

An ICD or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator is an electronic device that can be used to treat arrhythmia and a few other life-threatening problems of the heart. It is a small electronic device that is connected to the heart and is used as a monitor to observe and regulate the normal functioning of the heart.

It is a device that is the size of a stopwatch. It is implanted near the collarbone under the skin. It consists of a pulse generator and leads which are the wires. The pulse generator is made of a tiny computer and a battery that performs the monitoring work. The leads or wires connect the device to different parts of the heart so that the pulse generator can stay connected to it properly and perform its function well.

When the heartbeat is irregular the ICD responds by regulating it and making it normal. After an ICD implantation, some activities such as driving become very risky and so doctors often ask the patients who have had an ICD implantation to abstain from such activities. It depends on the type of arrhythmia the patient has.

No Shock

In case the patient has arrhythmia but has never had an attack and just got the ICD on a cautionary basis, then he or she may resume driving after a few days of the implantation.

Shock

In case the patient has already had a life-threatening arrhythmia or has received a shock from the ICD then the doctors recommend waiting at least 6 months before driving.

SymptomsTime
No ShockA few days
Shock6 months

Why Should I Wait That Long to Drive After ICD?

When someone has an arrhythmia, then the doctor suggests they stop driving at least for a while as soon as it is detected. Then depending on the further symptoms, it can be determined whether it is safe for them to drive or not and when. In case the patient has arrhythmia that does not cause any significant problems then there is no harm in driving and they can continue to do so.

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In case the arrhythmia turns out to be bad and exhibits certain serious symptoms such as fainting and frequent attacks, then there might be a hiatus imposed on the driving. When an ICD is implanted, the condition of the patient is observed for a while to see how they are adjusting to the new device and how well it is taking care of them and fixing their problem.

An ICD regulates the heartbeat when it is irregular and gives it a shock when it is about to go into cardiac arrest. This is seen as quite an extreme stage and when this happens the patient is advised to rest and is monitored very strictly. There is a huge likelihood of the symptoms and side effects recurring in this case, hence, the patient is advised not to drive for at least six months. In these six months if no symptoms occur and there are no signs of the arrhythmia repeating or worsening then the doctor may allow the patient to go back to driving in such a case as there is minimum risk.

Conclusion

Arrhythmia is a condition of the heart where it becomes very difficult for the patient to lead a normal life. Their heartbeats are not regulated and hence they face numerous problems. In such a case the patient is implanted with an ICD. It is a small electronic device that consists of a battery, computer, and multiple wires that are connected to various parts of the heart. It not only helps regulate the heartbeats but also updates this information so that the patient can be helped. In case of severe arrhythmia patients are advised to not drive for 6 months to monitor the condition and keep the symptoms in check.

References

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1540-8159.1997.tb04237.x
  2. https://journals.lww.com/jcnjournal/Fulltext/2010/11000/Experiences_of_Driving_and_Driving_Restrictions_in.11.aspx
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