Let’s look at your driving career and the impact of high blood pressure.
DOT Blood Pressure Guidelines
The Department of Transportation requires a certain blood pressure reading in order to grant a certification. These are the DOT blood pressure guidelines any commercial driver needs to know:
- Two-Year DOT medical certification: blood pressure under 140/90
- One-year DOT medical certification: a top number of 140-159 and a bottom number of 90-99. However, this is stage 1 hypertension and the driver should seek to lower their blood pressure.
- Three-month temporary DOT certification: a top number of 160-179 and a bottom number of 100-109. Blood pressure medication may be recommended and the driver can be tested again for a one-year certification when blood pressure has lowered.
Related: DOT Blood Pressure Guidelines
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a serious issue no matter your profession. For professional drivers, it is even more important. High blood pressure has very few outward symptoms, but can lead to serious complications like heart disease, heart attack, and strokes. This is especially dangerous if you are behind the wheel. High blood pressure is caused by a number of factors, including:
- Family history
- Narrowed blood vessels due to plaque buildup
- High cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Atherosclerosis (hardened blood vessels)
Studies have shown that long commutes can also contribute to higher blood pressure and increased weight. Professional drivers often have long hours of driving, and need to be extra careful. Thankfully, there is a lot you can do to lower your blood pressure.
How to Lower Blood Pressure
- Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Get regular physical exercise
- Eat foods rich in potassium (spinach, broccoli, bananas, potatoes, legumes)
- Eat foods with dietary nitrates such as beets, garlic, leafy greens, citrus fruits and dark chocolate
- Quit smoking
- Limit alcohol and caffeine intake
- Cut down on sodium
- Manage cholesterol levels (eat healthy cholesterol foods like fatty fish, nuts, legumes, and vegetable oils; avoid fatty, processed, and deep-fried foods)
During your regular checkup or a DOT physical, your doctor may also prescribe blood pressure medication. Make sure you do all of the above before relying on medications to lower your blood pressure.
Low Blood Pressure
We tend to focus more on the dangers of high blood pressure than low blood pressure. It isn’t much of a surprise—high blood pressure is more prevalent and causes serious health concerns. But low blood pressure (called hypotension) can still affect your health. And for professional drivers, it is even more important to keep your blood pressure within a normal range. Low blood pressure is below 90/60. Symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Lack of concentration
These are conditions that professional drivers cannot afford while on the road. They need to be alert, aware, and focused. Avoid these symptoms by doing the following:
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Use compression socks
- Take prescribed medications
- In some cases, increase your salt intake
Talk with your doctor about your low blood pressure and what you can do to manage it. Doctors may be able to prescribe medications that will keep your blood pressure normal.
The Bottom Line
Whether you are a professional driver or not, the DOT blood pressure guidelines are a great way to stay safe on the road. To avoid medical emergencies or lack of concentration, keep your blood pressure within a normal range. Not only will you have a happier commute, your overall health will improve. Related: https://heartbeetcomplete.com/dot-blood-pressure-guidelines/