Patients are restricted from driving following implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) implantation or shock. We sought to investigate how many patients are aware of, and adhere to, the driving restrictions, and what proportion experience an ICD shock or other cardiac symptoms while driving.
We performed a nationwide survey of all living Danish residents 18 years or older who received a first-time ICD between 2013 and 2016 (n = 3913) and linked their responses with nationwide registers. Of 2741 respondents (47% primary prevention, 83% male, median age 67 years), 2513 (92%) held a valid driver’s license at ICD implantation, 175 (7%) of whom had a license for professional driving. Many drivers were unaware of driving restrictions: primary prevention 58%; secondary prevention 36%; post-appropriate shock 28%; professional drivers 55%. Almost all (94%) resumed non-professional driving after ICD implantation, more than one-third during the restricted period; 35% resumed professional driving. During a median follow-up of 2.3 years, 5 (0.2%) reported receiving an ICD shock while driving, one of which resulted in a traffic accident. The estimated risk of harm was 0.0002% per person-year.
In this nationwide study, many ICD patients were unaware of driving restrictions, and more than one third resumed driving during a driving restriction period. However, the rate of reported ICD shocks while driving was very low.