The Echocardiogram

This is an ultrasound scan used to measure the overall function of your heart muscle. The technical term for this is "LVEF" unfortunately TFL often use this without explanation in their correspondence. LVEF is simply a measure of the completeness of your heart emptying with each beat. In the normal heat this is in the range 50 – 70 %. To be able to drive a cab it needs to be at least 40 %.

When you have a Echocardiogram (sometimes just called an echo) no X-rays are involved. There is no special preparation. You lie on a couch and a small probe is moved over your chest. The echo machine then builds up a "radar" type picture of your heart and the LVEF can be measured. The test usually takes about 10 – 20 min. It is quite painless and there are no after effects – you can drive straight after!

The Stress Echocardiogram (Functional Test)

This is only needed by a few drivers perhaps 10%. It is usually done where

A driver is unable to walk on a treadmill eg because of arthritis
An exercise test does not give a clear cut result
The ECG shows left bundle branch block

During the test you lie on a couch and a probe is placed over the chest as with an ordinary echocardiogram and an initial scan is done. Then the heart is stressed either by getting you to exercise or by injecting a small amount of a drug into a vein to mimic exercise. The scan is then repeated. After the test the scan results are analysed and if they reach the required standards you will be allowed to drive.

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