Becoming an independent young person

As a young person with a heart or circulatory condition you know that it's not only what happens in your hospital or clinic that has an impact on your life.

We are here to help support your journey into adulthood and have put together some information about some of the things you might be thinking about.

Your life, your decisions

Everyone’s experience of the big steps in life is different, but if you have a heart or circulatory condition you may feel a bit anxious about taking some of these steps. It’s natural feel like this.

We’ve broken down some of the important information to think about before taking the next step. But remember everyone is different and there is no right or wrong path to follow. After all, it's your journey!

Moving out of home

Moving out of home can be a big and exciting step, however you may have a lot more to think about than other people who don't have a heart condition. To make sure you are fully supported during this time make sure you talk through your plans with friends, family and also your specialist nurse or cardiologist.

Most young adults are used to someone taking care of the day to day things for them at home. Once you move out preparing healthy meals, arranging clinic appointments and managing medications are all things you'll need to take control of it. Overtime you will become more confident in making these decisions and living independently.

Sinead talks to young heart patients about how you can prepare to move out of home for the first time.

Going to uni

For many young people going to university is the next step after leaving school. Having a heart or circulatory condition shouldn't stop you from going to university and having a positive experience.

Most universities are able to offer extra support, both in your living and learning environment should you want it, talk to your university to find out more. Depending on where your Uni is located you may want to think about changing your GP and dentist so you are closer to them

We talked to six young heart patients about their experiences of going to university.

Starting a job

Starting your first job is an exciting and nerve wracking time for everyone. Working can provide you with an income, improve your confidence, help you to become more independent and having a heart condition shouldn’t stop you from finding a job you want to do. However, there are some things to think about before starting work. 

You should take some time to think about many the types of jobs that are out there and what would be best suited for you. Before you do any physical work you should talk to your GP or cardiac team to ensure this is safe for you to do.

It is up to you if you tell your employer about your heart condition, however it may be helpful to let key people, such as your HR department know so they can provide any support you may need.

Driving with a heart condition

When you turn 17 years old you may want to learn to drive. Usually, having a congenital heart condition or circulatory condition won’t stop you, but when you apply for your driving license you may need to tell the DVLA about your condition. Visit the DVLA website to find out if this applies to you.

Learning to drive is expensive and gaps between learning can mean it takes longer. It's best to plan to learn in a period when you won’t have any lengthy hospital stays.

Hannah, 17
Complete congenital heart block

You shouldn’t drive if you suffer from a medical condition that might suddenly cause you to lose control while driving, or if you cannot safely control your vehicle for any reason

You should always let your car insurance company know about your heart condition and any changes in your medication, including treatment that you’ve had. If you don’t, your car insurance may not be valid.

If you can’t walk far without getting breathless or tired, either because of your heart condition or any physical disabilities you may have, it’s worth checking whether you're entitled to a blue badge. This is a special badge that you display in your windscreen and it allows you to park closer to your destination.

Going travelling

Most people with a heart or circulatory condition are able to go on holiday. If your heart condition is stable, well controlled and you feel well, you should be okay. Some things to remember before your trip include:

  • Keep a summary of all your medical notes and what medication with you at all times
  • If you are on any medication make sure you have enough to last the duration of your trip
  • Check if you need any vaccinations before you visit certain countries
  • If you are planning on going away for a long period of time you may need to let your cardiac team know
  • If you have a pacemaker or an ICD you should take your device identification/card with you and inform the airport staff that you have a device.
  • Make sure you have appropriate travel insurance. We know this can be difficult with a heart condition, so to help we've put together some advice on finding a suitable insurer

Check out our Holidays and travel section when planning your holiday

Do you want to meet other young people like you?

Are you over 13 and living with a heart condition in the UK? Join one of our young peoples support programmes.

They are a great way to get information, help and support, and meet other young heart patients at free events.

Find out more