The law about driving after a coronary angioplasty varies according to what type of licence you have, and how successful your treatment is. If you’ve had a coronary angioplasty, you should contact your insurer to make sure your insurance remains valid.
Car or motorcycle licence
You don’t have to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that you’ve had a coronary angioplasty, but there are some restrictions on your driving. After your coronary angioplasty you should stop driving for:
- one week if it was successful and you don’t need any more surgery
- four weeks if you had an angioplasty after a heart attack but it wasn’t successful
It’s best to check with your doctor about when you should start driving again.
Bus, coach or lorry licence
If you drive large goods vehicles or passenger-carrying vehicles, you must tell the DVLA you’ve had a coronary angioplasty. You won’t be able to drive these vehicles for at least six weeks. Then you should see your doctor to check whether you’re well enough to return to work. The DVLA may ask you to have further tests to determine when you can go back to driving.
Yes, in fact it’s really important that you do. But you need to take things easy at first and gradually increase your activity. Before you leave hospital, you’ll be given advice about what you should or shouldn’t do. Do ask about any specific exercise or sporting activities you want to get back to.
It’s completely understandable if you feel worried about exercising after angioplasty. You might be concerned it will make your condition worse or bring on a heart attack. But the opposite is true. it's really important for your long-term health that you stay active. Exercise can lower your risk of further heart problems and diabetes, as well as help to reduce anxiety and stress.
Walking is a great way to start getting exercise and you can build up the distance you walk as the days go by. After a few weeks, you might want to try a bike or going for a gentle jog. You may be offered a cardiac rehabilitation course after your angioplasty – this will give you advice about exercise.
If you become breathless or have any chest pain when you exercise, stop and rest and contact your GP or NHS 111. If your symptoms don’t ease or get worse, phone 999.
A coronary angioplasty opens up your arteries and improves the flow of blood to your heart muscle. This aims to improve your symptoms but isn't a cure for heart disease.
The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to help keep your heart and your blood vessels healthy in future. These include living a healthy lifestyle and taking any medicines your doctor recommends.
You’re probably already familiar with the main ways to live a healthy lifestyle. These include:
- stopping smoking
- losing any excess weight
- taking regular exercise
- eating a healthy diet
- not drinking too much alcohol
For most people, angioplasty improves blood flow through the artery that’s been treated, so angina symptoms get better. But it’s possible that your arteries will get blocked again so your angina symptoms may come back.
If you have a bout of angina, the British Heart Foundation advice is to follow the steps listed below.
- Stop what you're doing.
- Sit down and rest.
- If you have glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) spray or tablets, take this as your doctor or nurse has told you to. The pain should ease within a few minutes. If it doesn't, take your GTN again.
- If the pain doesn't ease within about five minutes of taking the GTN a second time, call 999 immediately.
- If you're not allergic to aspirin and have some on you, chew an adult aspirin tablet (300mg). If you don't have an aspirin on you or are allergic to it, just stay resting until the ambulance arrives.
Did our Coronary angioplasty information help you?
We’d love to hear what you think. Our short survey takes just a few minutes to complete and helps us to keep improving our health information.
This information was published by Bupa's Health Content Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals and deemed accurate on the date of review. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition.
Any information about a treatment or procedure is generic, and does not necessarily describe that treatment or procedure as delivered by Bupa or its associated providers.
The information contained on this page and in any third party websites referred to on this page is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice nor is it intended to be for medical diagnosis or treatment. Third party websites are not owned or controlled by Bupa and any individual may be able to access and post messages on them. Bupa is not responsible for the content or availability of these third party websites. We do not accept advertising on this page.
- Coronary angioplasty. BMJ Best Practice Patient Information. bestpractice.bmj.com, last updated June 2020
- Percutaneous coronary intervention. Patient. patient.info, last updated September 2016
- Coronary angioplasty. British Heart Foundation. bhf.org.uk, published May 2018
- Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) technique. Medscape. emedicine.medscape.com, last updated November 2019
- Stable ischaemic heart disease. BMJ Best Practice. bestpractice.bmj.com, last updated October 2018
- Coronary revascularisation. Patient. patient.info, last updated November 2016
- ST-elevation myocardial infarction. BMJ Best Practice. bestpractice.bmj.com, last updated February 2020
- Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) periprocedural care. Medscape. emedicine.medscape.com, last updated November 2019
- Neumann F-J, Sousa-Uva M, Ahlsson A, et al. 2018 ESC/EACTS Guidelines on myocardial revascularization. Eur Heart J (2019); 40(2): 87–165
- Oxford handbook of cardiology. 2nd ed. Oxford Medicine Online. oxfordmedicine.com, published online May 2012
- Angiography. British Society of Interventional Radiology. bsir.org, accessed August 2020
- Frequently asked questions. Royal College of Anaesthetists. rcoa.ac.uk, accessed August 2020
- Angioplasty and stenting. British Society of Interventional Radiology. bsir.org, accessed August 2020
- Heart attacks, angioplasty, and driving. GOV.UK. gov.uk, accessed August 2020
- Heart disease and physical activity. Patient. patient.info, last updated December 2015
- Epidemiology of Coronary Heart Disease. Patient. patient.info, last updated July 2014