When you’re a truck driver, your heart health matters. So much so that drivers diagnosed with hypertension or those on medication to control high blood pressure often face challenges with DOT when it comes to certification.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Guidelines, those with blood pressure that is equal to or greater than 180/110 cannot be certified until their blood pressure is reduced to 140/90 or less.
What the Numbers Represent
We have both a systolic and a diastolic blood pressure reading. The top number is your systolic and the bottom is your diastolic. Systolic represents the highest pressure when your heart beats or contracts and pushes blood throughout your body and the diastolic represents the lowest pressure that your heart relaxes between beats.
Your Best Heart Rate
The American Heart Association lists the most optimal blood pressure either at or below 120 over 80. (120/80).
Guidelines for Driver Blood Pressure Readings
The FMCSA rules on blood pressure are divided into three categories. Drivers with Stage 1 or Stage 2 readings have fewer restrictions and/or less frequent certifications. It depends on the reading.
As published on the FMCSA website, “An individual diagnosed with Stage 1 hypertension (BP is 140/90-159/99) may be certified for one year. At recertification, an individual with a BP equal to or less than 140/90 may be certified for one year; however, if his or her BP is greater than 140/90 but less than 160/100, a one-time certificate for 3 months can be issued.”
They also report individuals diagnosed with “..Stage 2 (BP is 160/100-179/109) should be treated and a one-time certificate for 3-month certification can be issued. Once the driver has reduced his or her BP to equal to or less than 140/90, he or she may be recertified annually thereafter.”
Anything above 179/109 is considered Stage 3 and prevents drivers from being on the road until they have successfully lowered their blood pressure readings.
Don’t Forget Your Medical Certification
When the Medical Examiner electronically files a copy of your physical to the Department of Transportation, it becomes a part of your driving record in the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS). If your medical certification expires before you provide your state agency with an updated one, your CDL privileges could be suspended.
Monitoring and Maintaining Healthy Blood Pressure
It is recommended that drivers monitor their pressure over time to get an accurate reading. According to the American Heart Association, “A single high reading does not necessarily mean that you have high blood pressure. However, if readings stay at 140/90 mm Hg or above (systolic 140 or above OR diastolic 90 or above) over time, your doctor will likely want you to begin a treatment program. Such a program almost always includes lifestyle changes and often prescription medication for those with readings of 140/90 or higher.”
To help with monitoring the American Heart Association offers an online tracking program that can help high blood pressure candidates identify contributing causes. It can be accessed here: https://www.heart360.org/
Along with regular monitoring, the American Heart Association suggests adjusting your diet to help prevent high blood pressure and/or lower hypertension.
•Decrease your salt and limit sugar
•Whole-grain, high-fiber foods
•Choose Fat-free and low-fat or 1 percent dairy products
•Eat More Beans
•Opt for Skinless poultry and lean meats
•Include More Fish, especially fatty fish contain omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon, trout and herring (eat at least twice a week)
About Millis Transfer
Millis Transfer, Getting It There Since 1936, has an impressive service record earning the company dozens of “Carrier of the Year” awards. Headquartered in Black River Falls, Wis., Millis is also a Certified Top Pay Carrier with some of the best equipment on the road. Maintenance facilities and drop yards are strategically located throughout the company’s operating area. Its sister company, Millis Training Institute, offers five school locations that provide students with quality training in order to earn their CDL-A license. For more information, please visit www.millistransfer.com, www.mtidriving.com or call 1-800-937-0880.