Your dream is to become a driver. What if your health got in the way? Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can stop people from pursuing truck driving as a career. Federal law mandates that truck drivers maintain low blood pressure.
You may wonder, Can I get a CDL with high blood pressure? Will I be automatically disqualified? Can I still be a truck driver?
If you have high blood pressure, don’t worry! You can still become a driver if you take steps to lower your blood pressure.
About High Blood Pressure
Truck drivers must meet health and safety requirements to maintain their CDLs. Blood pressure is the pressure of blood pushing against your artery walls. It changes throughout the day based on your activities.
Higher blood pressure puts you at greater risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke and damage to vital organs.
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers.
- The first number is your systolic blood pressure. It measures the pressure in your arteries as your heart beats.
- The second number represents your diastolic blood pressure, which measures artery pressure when your heart rests between beats.
Readings at 120/80 mmHg and lower are considered normal.
If you have a history of high blood pressure, it will not automatically disqualify you from driving. You can prove that you manage your blood pressure well.
Can You Fail a DOT Physical for High Blood Pressure?
Every driver must pass a DOT physical to earn their Class A CDL or maintain it. You can fail your DOT physical if your blood pressure is too high.
High blood pressure isn’t a career-ender. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that 26% of truck drivers say they have hypertension.
Even with high blood pressure, you may still be able to drive. Truck drivers with high blood pressure must take steps to lower it and receive more frequent DOT physicals to maintain certification.
Curious about what else is checked on the DOT physical? Listen to our podcast to find out more from Trinity Healthcare.
Breakdown of High Blood Pressure & FMCSA Requirements
According to FMCSA, a commercial driver can maintain their certification for two years if their blood pressure is 140/90. If a driver’s blood pressure is higher, then their eligibility and certification length is as follows:
|Stage of Hypertension||Blood Pressure||Certification Period||Notes|
|Stage 0||140/90||2 years||Bi-annual DOT Physical|
|Stage 1||140-159/90-99||1 year||Annual DOT Physical|
|Stage 2||160-179/100-109||3 months, one-time||The driver can receive a one-year certification if blood pressure is below 140/90 in three months.|
|Stage 3||>180/110||Not qualified||When the driver’s blood pressure is below 140/90, they may be certified at six-month intervals.|
Individuals with a blood pressure reading greater than 180/110 are disqualified. However, you may apply again once you’ve lowered your blood pressure. You are not disqualified forever.
How Can You Measure Your Blood Pressure?
You can measure your blood pressure at home, at a pharmacy or at your doctor’s office. If you are nervous, your blood pressure reading may be higher. Eating, drinking, smoking or exercising 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure can also cause it to read higher.
Consider limiting these activities before taking your DOT physical to get the most accurate results.
Tips for Lowering Blood Pressure Without Medication
Consult your doctor if you are concerned about your blood pressure. High blood pressure can have serious health consequences.
The following list does not take the place of medical advice and should not be considered medical advice. Talk to your doctor before you take any steps to monitor your blood pressure. Your doctor will advise you on the best way forward.
- Try to lose weight. Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Losing small amounts of weight can lower your blood pressure.
- Exercise regularly. Routine physical activity, even only 30 minutes daily, can lower blood pressure by about 5 to 8 mmHg.
- Eat a healthy diet. Avoid saturated fats and cholesterol. Eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables instead.
- Reduce sodium intake. Don’t add extra salt to foods, and read the labels on what you eat. Less processed foods often contain less sodium.
- Get good sleep. Not enough sleep for weeks on end can affect your blood pressure. If you have sleep apnea, you may have higher blood pressure. Try to stick to a sleep schedule or seek treatment.
Medications: Can You Have a CDL With High Blood Pressure Medicine?
Your doctor may recommend medication for your high blood pressure. Many medications help lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of more serious conditions.
FMCSA and DOT do not have lists of forbidden medications. The DOT-certified medical examiner will decide if you are fit to drive on your prescription. You may be found fit to drive while taking prescription medication, as long as its side effects do not interfere with your driving ability.
Your medical examiner may request a note from the doctor who prescribed you the medication. The note will help the examiner decide if you can operate a semi-truck safely.
Apply to Earn Your Class A CDL
High blood pressure doesn’t mean you can’t drive. However, you may have DOT physicals more often to check on your health. Talk to your doctor to find a treatment that works for you.
Got your blood pressure under control?
If you’re a new driver, apply to train with Prime Inc. Our Driver Training Program helps you gain real-world experience as an OTR driver. Plus, you’ll learn the ins and outs of operating a semi-truck.
Ready to switch companies? Prime welcomes experienced drivers too!
Apply online to start your journey, or chat with someone from our Recruiting Department at 866-290-1568. We can answer your questions about medical requirements.