It’s no secret that high blood pressure can affect your driving career. Beyond causing health issues, it can also hurt your chances of passing the DOT physical. To help with your health and physical, we’d like to offer some advice on how you can lower your blood pressure.
What to Know About Lowering Blood Pressure
- Truck drivers with high blood pressure can be medically certified to drive, but will have to lower their BP to under 140/90.
- Blood pressure medication is an FMCSA acceptable method for BP control, but there are also lifestyle methods that will help drivers stay healthy and fit for driving.
- Drivers with high blood pressure who have been medically certified will be required to recertify at least once each year rather than every 2 years.
- People with high blood pressure should always consult with their doctor before undergoing any extreme diet or lifestyle changes.
- Small changes in diet, weight, exercise and sleep patterns can help lower blood pressure both short and long-term.
Short-term Methods to Lower Your Blood Pressure Before Your DOT Physical
There are a number of things you can do to keep your blood pressure low in the days leading up to your DOT physical. Many of the suggestions below should be done long-term in the interest of good health. With that in mind, if your DOT physical is coming up and you need some tips that could lower you blood pressure quickly, try these “quick fixes.”
- Drink plenty of water. Proper hydration is an essential part of overall health. If your body doesn’t get enough water, it could retain a higher level of sodium, which is a medically accepted cause of high blood pressure.
- Avoid coffee, cigarettes and booze. Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol have all been proven to increase blood pressure, especially in the short-term. Excessive alcohol use has an especially direct connection to higher blood pressure.While coffee and nicotine appear to have a somewhat minimal long-term effect on blood pressure, consumption generally will raise it immediately and temporarily.
- Eat fruits and vegetables and drink beet juice. The health benefits of fruits and vegetables are many and varied, and they should be consumed at every opportunity. Foods high in nitrite/nitrate, especially beets, measurably reduce blood pressure in the short and long-term.
- Eat potassium rich foods. Both short and long-term, potassium has been proven to help lower blood pressure. Eating foods like bananas, white beans, leafy greens, potatoes, and dried apricots can help lower blood pressure within a couple hours of eating them.
- Try meditating. Reducing your stress in general has a positive effect on your blood pressure. The American Heart Association released a scientific statement on alternative approaches to lowering blood pressure that acknowledges that there is some benefit to meditation as far as your heart is concerned. So, since you’re already alone in the truck, close your eyes (not while driving), take a deep breath and let healing energies wash over you.
- Get some sleep. Less sleep has been linked to increased risk of hypertensions and general cardiovascular problems. Even a 45-minute nap during the day has been shown to lower blood pressure. A persons blood pressure naturally rises and falls during the day, the lowest point usually being during the middle of the night and the highest in the middle of the afternoon.
Long-term Methods of Lowering Your Blood Pressure
The struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle while on the road is real. Truck drivers who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, in addition to taking prescription medication, should pay attention to certain areas of their health including:
- Change to a healthier diet and lay off the salt. Planning ahead is key to eating healthy on the road. Pack a cooler with fruits, vegetables, and meals. Some drivers keep electric coolers or refrigerators in their truck with them, giving them plenty of snack options. A healthy diet on the road will also help your alertness and decision-making skills, making you a better driver.Stop eating greasy fast food every day and order a salad. Also, drink tons of water. Not only does hydration help keep blood pressure under control, but it will help eliminate bodily waste.
- Reduce caffeine intake. While caffeine may only increase your blood pressure temporarily or short-term, regular and heavy coffee drinkers will then spend extended periods of time with an elevated blood pressure. Caffeine affects everyone differently, so if you have high blood pressure, you should ask your doctor for advice on your caffeine intake.
- Limit alcohol intake. In general, truck drivers will be limited in their opportunity to partake of the boozing. Aside from that, short-term alcohol use can raise blood pressure temporarily, while repeated binge drinking can lead to long-term hypertension along with all of the other effects of alcohol.
- Quit smoking. While smoking has not definitively been linked as a cause of long-term hypertension, every cigarette you smoke raises your blood pressure temporarily. Heavy smokers tend to have more sustained periods of high blood pressure than non-smokers, putting additional stress on their cardiovascular system.
- Get more and better sleep. As difficult as it is for a truck driver to get regular, deep sleep, studies have shown that continuous poor-quality sleep plays at least some part in raising blood pressure. A better diet and exercise can help facilitate good sleep. Try blocking out light and sound if possible. Plan ahead to try and sleep away from a lot of activity. Also, invest in a higher-end mattress; it’s well worth the extra cash.