An estimated 75 million Americans have high blood pressure or hypertension. According to the CDC, that’s roughly 30% of the US population. But what exactly is high blood pressure and what are the DOT blood pressure guidelines?
High blood pressure can be caused by a myriad of unhealthy lifestyle habits or even genetics. Measuring blood pressure is a common step in an annual physical. However, if you’re found to have hypertension, the DOT blood pressure guidelines will affect your day-to-day trucking routine.
Common Symptoms of Hypertension
What is blood pressure? When a nurse or physician tests your blood pressure, “they are measuring the force that blood exerts on the walls of the arteries as it flows through them.” If blood pressure is too high for too long, it can cause serious damage to the blood vessels. This is known as high blood pressure or hypertension. The damage that is caused by this condition can result in a range of complications including heart failure, vision loss, stroke, kidney disease and other serious health problems.
What makes hypertension so dangerous is nearly one-third of people who have high blood pressure don’t even realize it! One way to know if you should get tested is if you have a close relative who has high blood pressure. Otherwise, the only way to know if you developed this condition is through regular tests and check-ups.
It’s important to remember that Hypertension symptoms can differ between men and women, as well as with people with preexisting conditions or specific genetic features like obesity, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, sleep apnea, lupus as well as others. Some general warning signs that your blood pressure is too high may include:
- Severe or Throbbing Headache
- Fatigue or Confusions
- Blurred or Foggy Vision
- Chest Pain or Tightness
- Difficulty Breathing or Shortness-Of-Breath
- Irregular or Inconsistent Heartbeat
- Blood in Urine
- Pounding in your Neck, Chest or Ears
The Inconvenient Truth for Truckers
“Truckers have an increased propensity for the development of hypertension, exceeding the risk typically seen in other professions,” according to a Cardiovascular Advisory Panel. “Long-term data have shown increased rates of cerebral, cardiac, and renal complications in patients with elevated blood pressure.” Due to the fact that Hypertension is progressive in nature and is commonly undetected, the DOT Blood Pressure Guidelines will require regular follow- up and monitoring of your condition until deemed fit by a doctor.
Due to drivers being already at high risk there is a need for the DOT blood pressure guidelines. There is a public transportation risk as well. One of the reasons that the DOT blood pressure guidelines exist is the risk of sudden incapacitation. The fear is that a driver may become incapacitated or unconscious while driving a rig is a chilling reality of this condition. If gone undetected could cause insurmountable damage to the lives of drivers, commuters and the roadways themselves. Hypertension is dangerous.
The DOT Blood Pressure Guidelines
There are three stages to the DOT Blood Pressure Guides, each stage corresponds with a higher blood pressure rate and tighter return-to-work restrictions. They are the following:
Stage 1: Blood Pressure range of 90/99 through 140/159
- The driver is certified for one year. The driver with a Blood Pressure in this range is usually without symptoms and at low risk for hypertension-related acute incapacitation.
- To obtain a year recertification, the individual should have a Blood Pressure equal to or less than 140/90 and should receive a DOT certification exam each year thereafter.
- At recertification, if a driver’s Blood Pressure is greater than 140/90 but less than 160/100 (141-159/91-99), a one-time certificate for three-months can be issued to allow time for the driver to be evaluated and treated.
Stage 2: Blood Pressure range of 100/109 through 160/179
- A one-time, 3-month certificate is issued and the driver should be treated.
- Once the driver has been treated and the Blood Pressure is equal to or less than 140/90, they can receive a one-year certification from the date of the initial exam (when the three-month certification was given) and should receive a DOT certification exam each year thereafter.
Stage 3 or Medical Disqualification: Blood Pressure at or above 180/110.
- The driver is medically disqualified.
- Drivers with Stage 3 hypertension are at high risk for developing acute hypertension-related symptoms.
- Once the BP is equal to or less than 140/90, s/he will be given a six-month certificate from the date of the initial disqualifying examination and will require recertification every six months thereafter.
How to Reduce Blood Pressure
Worried about hypertension? Don’t try to use short-term fixes as a way to try and game the system. Not only will this not work it can also lead to much more serious health conditions as well as consequences for your safety as well as others on the road.
That being said, if you’re looking to lower or reduce blood pressure making these changes in unhealthy habits will help you to achieve your health goal.
#1 Lose Weight & Exercise Regularly
As your weight goes up so does your blood pressure. Losing even a few of those extra pounds can help reduce blood pressure. Men with a waist of over 40 inches or women over 35 increase are both at risk respectively. It’s recommended that regular physical activity, around 30 minutes several times a week will help to lower blood pressure as well. In a 2013 study, when sedentary older adults participated in aerobic exercise training the result of their new physical activity where just a good as some blood pressure medications.
#2 Eat a Healthier Diet
Foods like fish, whole grains, vegetables and, low-fat dairy that skimp on saturated fats and bad cholesterol. A lower-carb diet can also help you to feel fuller for longer, thanks to higher on average consumption of proteins and fats. You’d be surprised just how many healthy snacks are on the road!
#3 Reduce Sodium
Any food rich in potassium can help reduces your level of sodium as well as the effects of high blood pressure. Think foods like fruits, bananas, avocados sweet potatoes and spinach. If you’re looking for a meal to feed you beast, these gas station snacks will curb your cravings on the road!
#4 Quit Smoking
Each cigarette you smoke increases your blood pressure immediately after you’d inhaled it. Quitting smoking may be challenging, but once you have it lowers your risk of heart disease and improves your overall health. Chemicals in tobacco can increase the blood pressure as well as narrowing and hardening your arteries.
#5 Cut back on Caffeine
Caffeine’s effect on blood pressure is still debated, however, it is widely known to increase your heart rate. Caffeine, just like any drug is likely to affect each person differently. So, adjust your intake and self- monitor its effects.
#6 Reduce stress
Be aware of your stress triggers and make time for downtime. Practicing gratitude for others can also help to reduce your stress. Some other activities include reading, deep breathing, walks or laughter.
Thankfully, when it comes to the DOT Blood pressure guidelines you’re in control. Although, the consequences of poor life choices can hinder your day-to-day trucking, remember it’s a precaution to protect drivers from much more damaging and lasting health effects.Looking for a new job? Check out our listings here!