Motor vehicle crash risk after cardioverter-defibrillator implantation: A population-based evaluation

Motor vehicle crashes result in 78 million injuries worldwide each year. Some crashes might be prevented by restricting driving for individuals with medical conditions that might cause sudden incapacitation while diving (eg. epilepsy, sleep apnea).

About 4,000 Canadians will have an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) implanted this year. ICDs treat life-threatening cardiac rhythm abnormalities and prevent cardiac arrest. A heart rhythm problem or device malfunction in the weeks after implantation might result in a crash, so patients are warned not to drive for 4 weeks after ICD implantation.

Do driving restrictions after ICD implantation prevent crashes? Would driving restrictions be more effective if they were modified? The answers to these questions aren't known.

British Columbia's health and driving databases provide a unique opportunity to examine crash risk after ICD implantation. The MVC-ICD study will use health and driving records to compare crash risk among 9,000 ICD patients to crash risk among control patients. Results will provide an immediate opportunity to improve clinical practice, licensing policy and road safety in Canada and abroad.