Truck Drivers And High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a major factor affecting commercial truck drivers. High blood pressure also known as hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure. This is a medical condition where the blood pressure in the arteries is elevated. Blood pressure refers to the force in which the blood is hitting artery walls. When the force is too high it can cause serious health issues like heart disease and strokes.

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Commercial truck drivers must undergo a medical exam before they can be issued a commercial driver license. High blood pressure is is a dangerous medical condition. It is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and vision loss. High blood pressure can potentially prevent truck drivers from being hired or cause them to lose their jobs.

The Department of Transportation requires truck drivers to receive a health exam and be issued a medical certificate in order to be able to drive commercial trucks. When a Medical Examiner grants a medical certification, he/she certifies the driver to be able to perform any job duty required of a commercial driver. This includes the ability to drive the vehicle safely. They must also to be able to do pre and post safety inspections of the truck and trailers. Additionally, they must be able to secure the load and make sure it has not shifted.

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There are two types of high blood pressure, primary (essential) hypertension and secondary hypertension. Approximately 90% to 95% of hypertension is “primary hypertension.” This refers to high blood pressure which does not have an obvious underlying medical cause. However, it is thought to be linked to genetics, obesity, lack of exercise and poor dietary choices.

The remaining 5% to 10% of hypertension are referred to as “secondary hypertension.” Secondary hypertension is high blood pressure that is caused by an underlying medical condition. Secondary hypertension can be caused by kidney problems, birth control pills, cold medicines,decongestants, pain relief medication and prescription drugs. It can also be cause by conditions that affect the heart, arteries and endocrine system.

Blood Pressure Numbers

Blood pressure is measured as systolic and diastolic pressures. “Systolic” refers to blood pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. “Diastolic” refers to blood pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. Blood pressure numbers are typically written with the systolic number above or before the diastolic number, such as 120/80 mmHg. The mmHg refers to millimeters of mercury which are the units used to measure blood pressure.

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Normal blood pressure is Less than 120 systolic and Less than 80 diastolic (120mmHg/80).
Prehypertension is less than 120–139 systolic and less than 80–89 diastolic.

High blood pressure is rated in stages as follows:
Stage 1 high blood pressure is between 140–159 systolic and 90-99 diastolic.
Stage 2 high blood pressure is between 160 or higher systolic and 100 or higher diastolic.

DOT sets limitations on blood pressure readings for truck drivers. Currently, a truck drivers blood pressure levels are considered to be high if they are between 161-180 systolic and/or 91-104 diastolic. These readings allow for a driver to be issued a temporary medical certificate valid for that 30 month period. If blood pressure 160/90 or lower a medical certificate can be issued for a one year period. Each year thereafter the individual must be re-certified. Those with Blood pressure readings greater than 181/105 must reduce their levels below these levels. Medication is allowed for high blood pressure provided the medication plus bring blood pressure levels to satisfactory levels.

The currently regulations allow truck drivers to use medication to manage their blood pressure levels. However, they must provide their physician with a detailed cardiosvacular evualution.

High blood pressure if often referred to as the silent killer because it rarely causes any symptoms until considerable organ damage has occurred. That’s why it’s important to regularly get accurate blood pressure readings. This is vital to your long-term health. This can easily be accomplished by keeping a blood pressure monitor in your truck.

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