The FMCSA and the DOT use the medically accepted classifications of hypertension as a guideline for the physical. The medical examiner will transmit the results of the driver's physical to the DOT electronically, so drivers really have no choice but to try to get high blood pressure under control and keep it under control one way or another.
Many drivers choose to take prescribed medication to reduce their blood pressure, while some will use only lifestyle changes to bring it down without medication. Either method is acceptable, as long as it brings blood pressure to under 140/90. Recertification for drivers whose blood pressure has been measured at over 140/90 will be required every year, rather than every two years.
Drivers with Stage 1 hypertension can be medically certified for one year, rather than the normal 2-year certification. At recertification, truck driver's blood pressure must be at 140/90 or below to pass.
If a driver's blood pressure is still above 140/90 at recertification, a 3-month non-renewable certificate will be issued. After that 3-month cert expires, a driver whose BP is still not under control will be disqualified from driving and taken out of service until it is.
Drivers with Stage 2 hypertension can only be issued a 3-month certification. In order to receive the remainder of the 12-month cert, blood pressure must be brought down to under 140/90, with or without medication.
If after 3 months a drivers BP is still over 140/90, the driver is disqualified from driving and taken out of service until it is. Recertification will be required yearly after that.
Drivers are immediately disqualified from driving, and no medical certification is issued. On the follow-up visits, if a driver has lowered their blood pressure to under 140/90 they can be issued a 6-month medical certificate, issued from the original disqualification date.
Drivers diagnosed with Stage 3 hypertension will then be required to recertify every 6 months.
The DOT and FMCSA don't keep a "master list" of prescribed medications that drivers are either allowed or prohibited from taking. FMCSA guidelines leave it up to a driver's personal physician in combination with the ME to make sure that any blood pressure medication a driver is taking will not "adversely affect a driver's ability to operate a CMV safely."
Hypertension many times will not cause any noticeable symptoms. It is typically a chronic condition that causes damage over a period of years if left uncontrolled. Please see your doctor ASAP if you are experiencing any of these and have concerns.
Left uncontrolled, high blood pressure can land you in the hospital or worse. Long term hypertension can lead to medical emergencies such as:
If you're considering a career in trucking and you know your blood pressure may be a concern, get it looked after right away. Get your blood pressure tested and speak with your doctor about getting a DOT approved medication if need be.