A professional driver asks Trucker Docs™…
I usually get high BP only when this DOT physical is due!! What can I do? “
Here are some tips to manage your blood pressure and have it measure as low as possible during the exam.
Each of these factors may affect your blood pressure reading a number of points:
- Nicotine/Caffeine. Nicotine and caffeine both raise your blood pressure temporarily. It’s best to refrain from smoking, chew, coffee, tea, sodas, and energy drinks a few hours before the examination. Replace caffeinated drinks with water to stay hydrated.
- Tired. Tired, weary, stressed? Your blood pressure is likely to go up. Get rested before the examination and leave plenty of time to get to your appointment. Get to your appointment early so you have time to sit and relax.
- Temperature. Blood pressure tends to increase when you are cold. If you’re at the doctor’s office and the room temperature is “chilly” to you, be aware that your blood pressure readings may be higher than expected. Dress to stay warm.
- Glass of water. Drink a full glass of water before you get to your appointment. This will help calm your body as well as prepare you to give a urine sample.
- Full Bladder. Your blood pressure is lower when your bladder is empty. Ask the doctor to perform the urine test prior to the physical exam.
- Emotional State. Stress or anxiety can cause large increases in blood pressure. If you are thinking about something that causes you to tense up or become stressed whilst having your blood pressure taken, the levels could significantly increase. While your blood pressure is being taken, be quiet and think about something far away that makes you feel happy and relaxed.
- Talking. If you are talking to the examiner while having your blood pressure taken, studies have shown that your systolic blood pressure measurement may increase 10 to 15mmHg. Be comfortable talking beforehand, especially if you’re chatting about something that makes you feel happy or relaxed, like a sport or hobby, or a vacation. Then be quiet during the blood pressure reading.
- Restricted Breathing. Holding your breath because you are nervous will raise your blood pressure. Breathe slowly and deeply like the doctor tells you to when listening to your heart with a stethoscope. Breathing slowly and evenly will help your body to relax.
- Arm/Back/Feet Unsupported. When having your blood pressure measured, you should always be seated in a comfortable chair, legs uncrossed, with your back and arm supported. If your back is not supported, your diastolic blood pressure measurement may be increased by 6 mmHg. Crossing your legs has shown to raise your systolic blood pressure by 2 to 8 mmHg. The positioning of your upper arm below your heart level will also result in higher measurements, whereas positioning your upper arm above your heart level will give you lower measurements. These differences can increase/decrease your systolic blood pressure 2mmHg for every inch above/below your heart level.
- Blood Pressure Cuff Used Over Clothing. Studies have shown that clothing can impact a systolic blood pressure from 10 to 50 mmHg. When having your blood pressure measured, the cuff should always be placed directly on your arm.
- Get Your Spine Aligned! Pain or physical discomfort tends to raise blood pressure. Several studies have shown that chiropractic adjustment will lower blood pressure after the correction is delivered.
Put In A Nutshell
The doctor is on your side so let him/her take care of the examination!
The best thing you can do is go to a happy place far away and breathe slowly, and deeply, and evenly, in and out. It does help.