DOT Physical: White Coat Syndrome Causes High Blood Pressure

Anxiety Induced High Blood Pressure

White Coat Syndrome!
There are those who say it doesn’t exist and then there’s the reality.

For some people just the thought of setting foot in a doctor’s office feels like walking into a lion’s den. For a commercial driver whose livelihood depends on getting their medical card, their anxiety is quite understandable, and their blood pressure rises to the threat. Drivers realize that the DOT examining doctor could, potentially, pull them off the road by the end of the examination. Goodness, I wonder why they might have some stress at the time of the exam.

Clinical DOT Physical Experience

Have you ever been away from your home town when you needed to get your medical card re-certified?

You couldn’t get to your family doctor, so you had to find a medical examiner on the road and you ended up in one of those doc-in-a-box places. It was tough to find the place, there was no safe parking for your rig, you were treated like a number, had to wait around for ages in clinical surroundings. Everything about the place, including the white coats primed your body for the threat.

Stress and fear. If your blood pressure reads high, now you have reason to be even more anxious. Are you going to be stuck with your medical card limited to one year, or worse still, three months?

Driver Friendly DOT Physical

We saw such a driver in our office the other day. He was freaking out about passing the examination because he has white coat syndrome. So we took a quick blood pressure reading and it was elevated a few points into stage 1 hypertension.

We talked through his health history, told bad jokes, got him laughing and relaxed, and then took another reading. It read 136/86, below DOT requirements. We continued with the medical exam, and during that time took two more blood pressure readings. He was relaxed and his stress levels were down and he still had a pressure below 136/86. He passed his DOT physical with flying colors.

Stop By For a Free Blood Pressure Check

If you’re driving through Salt Lake City, come by Chiro Stop (no white coats here!) and meet Doc Kenn. Plenty of safe parking for your truck here at Sapp Bros. and lots of amenities for drivers.

We’d be happy to give you a free blood pressure check. Doc can even give you some tips on managing your blood pressure. When it’s time to re-certify your medical card you’ll know where you can come, and know that your blood pressure will stay within the range that’s normal for you.

Till then, be well!
Doc Kenn

Get Physical For Your Next DOT Physical: The 18 Wheel Boogie

Worried about the effects of your over the road lifestyle on your health? Will your medical card be at risk?

Yes, the lifestyle of a commercial driver certainly has its limitations and challenges. The effects of gaining weight and increased blood pressure are concerns for many drivers when the time comes for their next DOT physical.

You may not have a way to work out at the gym but you do have some heavy duty equipment right under your nose. So you might as well make it work for you. Why not do the 18 wheel boogie?

Here’s Doc’s DOT Physical “18 Wheel Boogie” workout:

Each time you need to do a tire check you have to “thump” 18 tires. Rather than just going from the front to the back and around to the front again, why not turn it into a useful workout? You may even decide to make it fun.

  • Get the tire thumper out and start with the two tires that are the fartherest away, right rear.
  • Then go the fartherest tires from there – left front.  Change thumper hand. Thump with enthusiasm.
  • Then go to the left rear tires and thump them with enthusiasm.
  • Then right rear tractor. Change hands, change lean, and thump away.
  • Then speed walk the long way around the trailer to the driver’s side tractor rears.
  • Then do the the opposite trailer tires.
  • Then the long way around the front of the track to the trailer right rears.

And there you have it – the 18 wheel boogie!

You’ve walked around the truck a few times, and burned some extra calories. You’ve moved most of your muscles for a few minutes, and helped your heart and your blood pressure.  You were able to beat the heck out of the tires and relieve any stress or frustration you’d built up. Better than a gym workout, especially if you changed thumper hands to balance your muscle workout – Biomechanics are important too, but that’s another story, for another time.

And, you really did check the air pressure and structural integrity of all the tires – a DOT physical for the truck and trailer.

Your mind may think this is not really exercise, but your body doesn’t know it, so it loves you for getting out of the truck and moving around. Keep this up and your next DOT physical will be a cake walk. What a deal.

Thanks for listening.  Travel safely!
Dr. Kenn

DOT Physical: How Pets Help Reduce Commercial Drivers’ Blood Pressure

What Does A Pet Have To Do With A DOT Physical?

When drivers come in to do their DOT physical for CDL certification, a concern we hear most frequently is about high blood pressure. In a news article,  High Blood Pressure: Commercial Driver Risk?, we’ve covered the FMCSR medical guidelines regarding blood pressure and commercial driver certification.

In the same article we covered the #1 Secret To Reducing Your Blood Pressure.

So, what does a pet have to do with a DOT physical? We’ll let the proverbial ‘cat out of the bag’, here, if you’ll excuse the pun.

What’s the best kept secret to keeping you blood pressure low and stay out of hypertension?
It’s that simple. Movement improves blood flow and helps reduce blood pressure. 
Move any way you can, any time you can!

Ten minute activity periods, four or five times a day will go a long way to help keep your blood pressure under control, and pass your next DOT physical with flying colors.
Bottom line for commercial drivers: Your blood pressure needs to be below 140/90.

Dog Companions Keep Their Driver Owners On The Move

Many of the drivers who come in to Chiro Stop for their DOT physical, own a dog. Dogs get their driver owners out of the truck and into the fresh air and sunshine. If you have a dog for a pet, you get to go for a walk at least three or four times a day. And, an added benefit – while out walking, you meet other people who are more willing to strike up a conversation because of your dog – maybe a chance to blow off steam and unwind. A dog not only provides companionship and affection, but also security and protection.

Pets Can Promote Physical and Mental Health

Pets are great companions for commercial drivers who spend much time alone and have little contact with family and friends. Pets give them a different outlook and help them relax. Pets bring laughter and love into their lives. Several studies have shown that pets can aid in relaxation, lower one’s blood pressure and promote physical and mental health.

Commercial Drivers Have A Variety of Pets

"Pet Vietnamese Pig". Photo by Eowina on Flickr

In the years that we’ve been doing DOT physicals with drivers, we’ve had conversations on many subjects. But, if a driver has a pet, the subject of that pet will always come up. Funny thing is, more than half of pet owners say they’d prefer the company of their pet, to that of another human, if they were stranded on an island. And, for drivers, these pets come in a variety of species. Dogs are most popular, but some have cats, snakes, and birds, and we also know of a goat and a vietnamese pig.

Pets are loyal, nonjudgmental and full of unconditional love. They don’t hold grudges, bring up the past or stop interacting with their owners because of a difference of opinion. Who could ask for anything more?

Be well!

Doc Kenn

Are you a commercial driver with a pet on board? Tell us about it. Click on COMMENTS just below!

Salt Lake City Stop to Re-Certify DOT Medical Card

DOT Physical – Check that Heart Murmur

Elwood M.  From West Plain,  MO stopped in today to get his DOT medical card re-certified. Haven’t seen him in quite a while. The last time was when he needed to have his previous DOT physical done. He was going through Salt Lake City at the time so he had come in to see us.  We told him then about a heart murmur and wanted him to have it checked out.  He had his family physician check him over and all is well.  He told me that he’s had ‘many a physical’ and no one had ever said a word about the murmur.

Headed to CA with New Medical Card

He also said today that he had not been back through Salt Lake City since I’d seen him last, but he told all his friends and anyone who asks, to “go see the doc in Salt Lake”, because whether loaded or empty he could stop by and within 30 minutes get his DOT physical completed, done right and be on his way.  He’s headed to California with a new medical card and still in great shape.
Thanks Elwood for the nice words.
Travel Safely!
Dr. Kenn

Heart Attack Driver Alive and Well

Good Day Drivers

Good News!

Heart Surgery and a New Lease on Life

This morning when I arrived, Jim was here at the office and followed me in through the door. Jim was the driver I wrote about, in the article last week, who came in for his DOT physical exam and was having a heart attack and didn’t know it.

The tests from the hospital established that he’d had a heart attack some years back – and he didn’t even know it. The doctor operated and put in two stents to open up his heart’s blood supply. They said his heart had been working at only 40% of its capacity.

Today, Jim says he’s feeling like a new man, with a new lease on life. Glad to be alive, he’s headed home for a few days of rest and recovery.

I’m glad Jim needed a new DOT medical card and came in to see me that day.

The bottom line for commercial drivers is that your blood pressure needs to be below 140/90.  Your health is important to you life and your livelihood. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to come in and ask. You may also post a question by clicking on “Comments” below, or by checking out our frequently asked questions.

Wishing you a happy and safe Saint Patrick’s Day!

Doc Kenn

Having A Heart Attack and Don’t Know It?

Good Day Drivers

I didn’t expect to be back on the blog so soon but …

Just a DOT Physical

I arrived at the office this morning to find a driver waiting for me. We’ll name him Jim for anonymity, not his real name. He needed to get his DOT medical card re-certified. He said he was having some difficulty breathing. He’s a flat-bedder and hasn’t been able to tarp his load without stopping often to catch his breath.  I checked his blood pressure and found it to be almost unattainable. His heart rate was irregular. His breathing was labored and shallow and his lungs were filling with fluid.

He just wanted to re-certify so he could get on the road. He didn’t think anybody would believe him if he complained that he wasn’t feeling well.

Going Into Heart Failure

I explained that he was going into heart failure and that he really didn’t have a second choice other than get to the hospital right away. It took just a few minutes for him to realize that being found dead alongside his half-tarped truck would not be an option. We got him to the hospital right away.

How Will You Die?

When you die, do you want it to be in some horrible circumstance because your job took precedence over the things that are more important to you? Significant things like your health and your family. Commercial driving is a challenging lifestyle. Will it control the way you live, or will you manage the way you live, within its constraints? By knowing what the problems are, you can take action to make the outcome different.

I’ll keep you posted when I have news of Jim.

Any day above dirt is a good day.

Doc Kenn.

Hello World of Commercial Drivers!

Well here we are! Chiro Stop is going live on the web this Tuesday, March 9, 2010.

DOT doctor Kenn Seals

Chiro Stop's DOT doctor, Dr. Kenn Seals

I am looking forward to the ability to work with the drivers from all over the USA. Both here at the truck stop, in Salt Lake City, Utah and helping out with information and answering questions from drivers, on the internet.

We’ve been working with commercial drivers for more than seven years so we understand the hassles you encounter to get your DOT medical card. Here at Chiro Stop, located in Sapp Bros. truck stop, there is parking for 135 trucks, so it’s quick and convenient for commercial drivers, and you know your rig is safe.

Don’t hesitate to drop a line, make a comment, or ask a question – you can do that right here by clicking on the “Comments” below. That’s what I’m here for.
Be Well!
Dr. Kenn