High blood pressure is said to be the silent killer. It’s a condition when the force of the blood pushes too hard against the artery walls. Many times, there are no symptoms, until you have a heart attack. Hypertension damages your arteries and restricts blood flow. Poor blood circulation can lead to brain damage, impairment, stroke and kidney damage. Truck drivers are checked for high blood pressure as part of the DOT physical.

Truck drivers who have high blood pressure can drive, but they will have to lower their blood pressure to under 140/90. Although BP medication is an approved method to treat high blood pressure, there are other methods to help you lower your BP for better health. Drivers with hypertension will have to get recertified yearly to keep their CDL.

Lowering Your Blood Pressure Before the Physical

You should definitely take steps to ensure your blood pressure is in the target range before your DOT physical. These tips for lowering your blood pressure are good tips to stay healthy all year long:
  • Drink water. More water in your system lowers the sodium levels in your body, which does cause high blood pressure.
  • Watch your salt intake.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking raises blood pressure.
  • Don’t drink coffee. Studies show that caffeine raises blood pressure.
  • Don’t drink alcohol. Ditto.
  • Eat foods high in potassium. Bananas, sweet potatoes, pomegranate and dried apricots are all high in potassium.
  • Reduce your stress. Meditate. Pray. Do whatever you need to do to maintain good stress levels.
  • Up your vegetable and fruit intake. Foods high in nitrates and nitrites help maintain blood pressure. Beet juice is highly recommended.
  • Get enough sleep. Take a nap.

Long-Term Blood Pressure Management

It can be difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle out on the road. But you can find ways to pay attention to your health. A good way to lower blood pressure is to strengthen your heart muscles through exercise. Stronger heart muscles need less effort to pump blood. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. Ten 15-minute walks will get you there without too much trouble.
 
Plan meals for when you’re on the road to reduce your salt, sugar and fat intake. Pack coolers with fruits, vegetables and lean protein. When you do eat out, choose salads and grilled meats, instead of fried food. Drink lots of water.
 
Work on getting better sleep. You might need to invest in a better mattress. Find ways that block out light and sound to help you sleep better when you get a chance to rest. You need regular, deep sleep for good health. You should also consider a sleep study to know whether you are prone to sleep apnea.

Work With Your Doctor

If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, talk to your doctor before you make extreme changes to your diet or lifestyle. You might be surprised at how small changes can lower your blood pressure in the short-term and long-term. Make your health a priority, not only to pass the DOT physical but to have a good life on and off the road.