A particular focus of DOT physical exams is on checking for High Blood Pressure. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, when left unchecked, can lead to sudden stroke or a heart attack. This is why it is of utmost importance that truck drivers have their blood pressure under control.
For healthy individuals, a DOT medical certificate is valid for two years. Drivers who have already been diagnosed with hypertension, so long as it is well controlled, would still be eligible for a full two-year DOT Certificate. However, non- adequately controlled high blood pressure may limit a driver to receiving a one-year certificate, or worse, a one-time three-month certificate extension. For severe Hypertension, it is an automatic disqualifier.
High blood pressure can be caused by multiple factors. A poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, and smoking are among the more common reasons for hypertension. Unfortunately, high blood pressure is not always due to lifestyle habits. Genetics also play a role, where even a healthy person can develop high blood pressure.
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure? Well, the reason High Blood Pressure is called the silent killer is because many times there may not be any noticeable symptoms. This is usually the case when blood pressure slowly increases over time. For those with sudden onset Hypertension, they may develop headaches, dizziness and blurry vision. In such a case it would be a medical emergency and immediate medical attention would be appropriate.
High blood pressure can be treated in the early stages with simple adjustments to a daily routine. Lowering cholesterol by eating less red meat and incorporating salads into the diet have been proven to lower blood pressure. Exercise, even incorporating thirty minutes a day of increased heart rate is beneficial to lowering blood pressure.
For someone with more advanced Hypertension, there are a few medical options with regards to lowering blood pressure with medication. This should generally be discussed with a primary care physician, as different factors may also play a role. Poorly controlled Blood Pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and peripheral vascular disease such as Erectile dysfunction and (insert other disease).
For those who don’t visit their Primary Physician regularly, a DOT Physical Exam can incidentally be the first time High Blood Pressure is brought to attention. Getting it to a normal level is pertinent for getting back on the road and living a healthier lifestyle.