Having high blood pressure doesn’t only affect your life; it can affect your driving career as well. When you have high blood pressure you hurt your chances of passing the DOT physical. So, to help you with your health and physical, we’d like to offer some advice on how you can lower your blood pressure.
Basics of Lowering Blood Pressure
- Blood pressure medication is an FMCSA acceptable method for blood pressure control, but there are also lifestyle methods that will help drivers stay healthy and fit for driving.
- People with high blood pressure should consult with their doctor before undergoing any extreme diet or lifestyle change.
- Truck drivers with high blood pressure can be medically certified to drive, but will have to lower their blood pressure to under 140/90.
- Small changes in diet, weight, exercise, and sleep patterns can help lower blood pressure.
- Drivers with high blood pressure who have been medically certified are required to recertify at least once a year rather than every 2 years.
Lowering Blood Pressure Long-Term
The struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle while on the road is a real thing. For truck drivers who are diagnosed with high blood pressure or are on any medication for blood pressure, they should pay attention to certain areas of their health including:
- Reduce caffeine intake. Caffeine may only increase your blood pressure temporarily, however, 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, ask your doctor for advice on caffeine intake.
- Change to a healthier diet. Stop eating greasy fast food every day and start ordering salads. Planning ahead is the key to eating healthy on the road. Pack a cooler with fruits, veggies, and even meals. You can even go as far as getting a fridge to keep in your truck full of healthy foods. A healthy diet on the road will also help your alertness and decision-making skills, making you a better driver.
- Quit smoking. Smoking has not definitively been linked as a cause of long-term hypertension, however, every cigarette you smoke raises your blood pressure temporarily. Heavy smokers tend to have more sustained periods of high blood pressure than non-smokers.
- Limit alcohol intake. Truck drivers are limited in their opportunity to enjoy a drink or two. 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 the other effects of alcohol.
- Get better and more sleep. We know it’s difficult for a truck driver to get regular, deep sleep, but studies have shown that continuous poor-quality sleep plays at least some part in raising blood pressure. Having a better diet and exercise can help facilitate good sleep. Plan ahead to try and sleep away from a lot of activity. You can also invest in a higher-end mattress, it’s well worth the extra cash.
Short-term Methods to Lower Your Blood Pressure Before Your DOT Physical
There are numerous things you can do to keep your blood pressure low in the days leading up to your DOT physical. 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 your blood pressure quickly, try these methods –
- Drink plenty of water. Properly hydrating is essential to your overall health. If your body doesn’t get enough water, it could retain in higher level of sodium, which is a medically accepted cause of high blood pressure.
- Eat fruits and vegetables. The health benefits of fruits and vegetables are many and varied. They should be consumed at every opportunity. Foods high in nitrate/nitrite can 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, and potatoes can help lower blood pressure within a couple hours of eating them.
- 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.
- Try mediation. In general, reducing your stress has a positive effect on your blood pressure. There are some benefits to meditation as far as your heart is concerned. So, since you’re already alone in the truck, close your eyes, take a deep breath and let healing energies wash over you.
- GET SOME SLEEP! We already mentioned this in the long-term portion of this article, but it’s important to really work on this. A person’s 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.