High Blood Pressure And Its Effect On Your Driving Career

  • Blogs By Author

  • Blogs By Tag

What Should Truck Drivers Know About Blood Pressure and Hypertension?

  • Drivers who have high blood pressure CAN be medically certified to drive.
  • A driver's blood pressure must be at or below 140/90, with or without medication.
  • Drivers who are taking blood pressure medication can be certified to drive as long as their blood pressure is under 140/90.
  • A DOT medical certification for drivers with high blood pressure can initially be anywhere from 3 months to 1 year, depending on severity. Recertification will be required yearly after that. Drivers will still have to keep their blood pressure under 140/90.
  • Your DOT physical will be filed electronically by the Medical Examiner (ME), and will become part of your driving record.
  • There are a variety of methods you can use to help lower your blood pressure, both in the short-term and the long-term.

Truck Drivers and Levels Of Hypertension:

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.

Classes Of Hypertension And Medical Certifications

  • Stage 1 Hypertension: Blood Pressure 140/90 - 150/99.

    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.

  • Stage 2 Hypertension: Blood Pressure 160/100 - 179/109.

    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.

  • Stage 3 Hypertension: Blood Pressure 180/110+.

    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.

What Blood Pressure Medications Can Drivers Take?

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."

What Are Some Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure?

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.

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Tiredness
  • Vision changes
  • Severe headache
  • Nosebleed
  • Confusion
  • Blood in your urine
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pounding in your neck, ears, or chest

How Does High Blood Pressure Affect Your Health?

  • Those with high blood pressure will have a higher risk for heart disease and various other potentially serious conditions.
  • Hypertension can damage your arteries, hardening and thickening them. This can cause fat to collect inside them and restrict blood flow, leading to an entire cascade of life-threatening bodily damage.
  • The constant pressure of blood flowing through weakened arteries can lead to an aneurysm. An aneurysm is a localized, balloon-like, blood-filled bulge in blood vessel's wall.
  • In addition, poor blood circulation and and damage to blood vessels can lead to brain damage and impairment, and strokes, as well as kidney damage and failure.
  • High blood pressure can also result in damage to your eyes, if there is damage to the blood vessels supplying them. This will make it doubly hard to get medically certified to drive a truck, if you can no longer see.
  • High blood pressure dangers: Hypertension's effects on your body

High Blood Pressure Can Lead To Emergency Situations

Left uncontrolled, high blood pressure can land you in the hospital or worse. Long term hypertension can lead to medical emergencies such as:

  • Brain damage, memory loss, concentration issues
  • Heart attack
  • Angina (chest pain)
  • Stroke
  • Damage to your body's main artery
  • Sudden kidney failure
  • Seizures in pregnant women
  • Fluid backup into the lungs, leading to shortness of breath

Get Checked Out Ahead Of Time

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.

Related Articles:

The DOT Recertification Physical

Get all the information you need to know about DOT physicals, which are a necessary part of the trucking industry. Learn about the questions you need to answer, the physical tests you need to do, and the medical card you can get with your successful physical.

Medical Disqualification For Unfit Drivers

America is becoming overweight from eating too much of the wrong foods. Concern for unfit drivers has already started. Learn how truck drivers can get fit and healthy to keep their job and CDL ahead of the new rules being implemented.

The Sleep Apnea Witch Hunt

Truckers with a BMI of 35 or more are being targeted in the 2012 Sleep Apnea witch hunt. Learn the symptoms, triggers, and who is behind the push for sleep apnea testing. Understand the money associated with sleep apnea and the potential risks for truck drivers.

Factors Affecting Job Placement In The Trucking Industry

This article covers the major factors that will affect your ability to find work in the trucking industry. Learn about criminal history, alcohol related violations, drug and alcohol testing, driving record, employment history, physical health, age, and different truck driving school scenarios.

Lowering Your Blood Pressure For The DOT Physical

Truck drivers with high blood pressure must lower their BP to under 140/90 for DOT physical. Learn how to lower blood pressure quickly with potassium-rich foods, water, and reducing stress. Long-term methods include exercise, weight loss, diet, and sleep.

Why Join Trucking Truth?

We have an awesome set of tools that will help you understand the trucking industry and prepare for a great start to your trucking career. Not only that, but everything we offer here at TruckingTruth is 100% free - no strings attached! Sign up now and get instant access to our member's section:
High Road Training Program Logo
  • The High Road Training Program
  • The High Road Article Series
  • The Friendliest Trucker's Forum Ever!
  • Email Updates When New Articles Are Posted

Apply For Paid CDL Training Through TruckingTruth

Did you know you can fill out one quick form here on TruckingTruth and apply to several companies at once for paid CDL training? Seriously! The application only takes one minute. You will speak with recruiters today. There is no obligation whatsoever. Learn more and apply here:

Apply For Paid CDL Training