Almost all freshly-diagnosed heart patients are warned not to drive for a specific period of time following hospital discharge, ranging anywhere from 24 hours to several months, depending on the specific cardiac issue. And in the earliest days or weeks, we may have mixed emotions even thinking about getting behind the wheel of a car again.
Some of us might feel afraid to drive (“What if I have another cardiac emergency while driving by myself on the highway?”). A Swedish study that followed drivers living with chronic illness (including cardiovascular disease) over a 10-year period found that very few road accidents were directly caused by either the disease or its treatment after early driving restriction time periods had passed (just 0·8% of all cases). Despite those stats, the researchers reported that many individual drivers voluntarily surrendered their driving license post-diagnosis because of the personal decision that “my state of health was no longer compatible with safe driving.” (1)
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