Truck Driver Heart Disease Risk Factors

Truck Driving is ranked as being one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. The trucking industry is ranked as having the greatest number of injuries and illnesses among commercial drivers. Truck driving can be very stressful for a number of reasons. Drivers must master diverse skills in order to be able to manage and control a heavily loaded tractor/trailer. In addition to this the driver must deal with the various hazards of the road. This includes weather, accidents, road construction, traffic congestion and other situations. Furthermore, there are ever-increasing pressures to adhere to demanding pick-up and delivery schedules. Consequently, drivers have increased stress levels due to work related pressures.

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Heart Disease is one of the most serious illnesses affecting truck drivers. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD) which can cause heart attacks, angina, heart failure, and arrhythmias. CAD occurs when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed. This is due to the buildup of plaque on the inner walls. This buildup is called atherosclerosis. As this condition grows, less blood is able to flow through the arteries. As a result, the heart muscle can’t get the blood or oxygen it needs. This can lead to angina or a heart attack. The majority of heart attacks occur when a blood clot suddenly cuts off the blood supply to the heart.

Truck drivers must take responsibility for their own health and wellness. Truckers can take steps to reduce the risk of their becoming victims. Heart attack risk factors include the following:

Stress is a normal part of life. However, if left unmanaged it can cause many problems including increasing the risk of CAD. Truck drivers often have high stress levels due to the nature of the trucking industry. If stress levels are not properly managed, it can contribute to emotional, psychological and physical problems including increasing the risk of heart attacks or stroke.

Obesity is a major factor in CAD known to increase the risk of heart disease and strokes. Obesity is also a major problem in the trucking industry caused in part by the sedentary lifestyle of many truckers. Obesity is also caused by the consumption of poor quality foods many drivers consume on a regular basis.This includes foods which contain excessive amounts of saturated fat, trans fat and sugar.

Lack of Exercise increases the risks of heart attacks. Exercise is important in keeping the heart healthy. Truckers sit for many long hours each day. One of the hazards of sitting for too long a period of time is the formation of blood clots, heart disease and other cardiac problems. It is important to get up and move. Plan to stop every hour if possible to get out of the truck, stretch your legs and walk. Even a short walk into the truckstop will be helpful.

Truck drivers should strive to exercises 30 minutes each day. However, even though it would be ideal to exercise at least 30 minutes each day you can get significant benefits from 15 minutes of exercise. You can take a brisk walk and walk a mile within 15 minutes especially if the truckstop has walking trails. Also, you could keep some portable exercise equipment in the truck so you can exercise anyplace.

Diabetes increases your risk for heart disease. You can lower your risk by maintaining your blood glucose (also called blood sugar), blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels close to standard recommended levels

Healthy meals (275) Italian Shitake Tacos 3889033046_100bc6e178_oUnhealthy Diets are one of the major factors which can increase the risk of CAD. The foods you choose to eat greatly affect your health.It is important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables and reduce your consumption of fried, saturated fat laden foods such as potato chips, fried meats, etc. increases the risk of having a heart due to the nicotine which causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, this causes extensive “wear and tear” on the cardiovascular system. You could also include herbs which benefit heart health such as: hawthorn, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, oregano, parsley, rosemary, saffron, thyme and turmeric.

Smoking is a major heart disease risk. Smokers are two to three times more likely to die from a heart attack and twice as likely to die from a stroke than nonsmokers.

Get regular physical exams so your doctor can monitor your health. Your doctor can check your blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels to access your risk of developing CAD. High blood pressure is one factor that can cause you to lose your Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) health certification which enables you to be able to drive a heavy truck. You can easily monitor your own blood pressure by keeping a blood pressure monitor in the truck.

Signs of a heart attack can include the following:

1. Chest pain or discomfort
2. Shortness of breath especially when walking up an incline or stairs
3. Pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulder

Many truckers have had fatal truck accidents while having a heart attack. If you believe you are experiencing a heart attack call 911 immediately. Your chances of surviving a heart attack are greatly increased the faster treatment begins.