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5 ways for a truck driver to lower blood pressure

 how truck drivers can lower blood pressure

As a truck driver, it is important to understand the risks associated with high blood pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the force of blood against the walls of your arteries is consistently too high. This condition can lead to serious health problems if left untreated and can have a significant impact on your ability to perform your job safely and effectively. The nature of the job itself puts truck drivers at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure. The long hours spent sitting behind the wheel, often without much physical activity, can contribute to weight gain and a sedentary lifestyle. Additionally, the stress and demands of the job can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as poor diet choices and increased alcohol consumption. All of these factors can contribute to the development and progression of hypertension.

1. Eat Fruits, Vegetables, & Beet Juice To Lower Your Blood Pressure

In technical terms, beets are high in nitrate, which, as your body turns it into nitric oxide, can help you lower your blood pressure by:

beets are high in nitrate
  • Relaxing the smooth muscles in your blood vessels. This helps to keep your arteries properly dilated.

  • Nitric oxide is an anti-platelet, that helps guard against blood clotting or thickening.

Both of these things help lower blood pressure by helping the blood to flow easier through your body.

A study conducted at Queen Mary University in London, England found that drinking a cup of beet juice daily had a significant impact on blood pressure, and brought it back to the normal range for most patients:

During the study, patients in the intervention group also experienced an improvement of around 20 per cent in blood vessel dilation capacity and around a 10% reduction in arterial stiffness. These changes in blood vessel function have been shown, by other studies, to be associated with substantial reductions in heart disease. There were no adverse side effects from the daily dietary nitrate. Source: Daily beetroot juice lowers blood pressure, scientists find

You can buy beet juice in pretty much any supermarket place, by now. Alternatively, there are several variations available, such as powder form and high-concentrate mix. If you're not really into beet juice, there are many other alternatives high in nitrates:

Click for foods high in nitrates

Strawberries Currents Gooseberries Raspberries Cherries Lettuce Carrots Green Beans Spinach Parsley Cabbage Radishes Eggplant Celery Collard Greens Arugula Rhubarb

The level of nitrates in these foods will vary greatly depending on the quality of the soil they were grown in.

Also note that "beet juice" is not to be confused with Beetlejuice, the 1988 comedy/horror/romance film featuring the one-and-only Michael Keaton in one of his finest on-screen performances.

2. Lower Blood Pressure By Getting Good Sleep

Many people who get less than 5 hours of sleep per night may be at increased risk for developing high blood pressure. Sleep is a factor in regulating stress hormones, and keeping your nervous system healthy. Chronic lack of sleep could lead to high blood pressure, as over time your body may not be able to properly regulate stress hormones.

People with sleep apnea may be more susceptible to high blood pressure, as, if left untreated, it can cause very broken or fractured sleep patterns.

A study was done in 2013, Epidemiological Evidence for the Link Between Sleep Duration and High Blood Pressure, reviewing the results of 21 previous studies involving 225,000 subjects, found that "short-sleepers", or those getting less than six hours per night, were 20% more likely to develop hypertension.

In a recent insomnia conversation in our forum, Pianoman shared his secrets for getting decent sleep on the road:

3. Smoking, Drinking, & Even Coffee Will Raise Your Blood Pressure

Nicotine has been shown to raise blood pressure and heart rate, harden and narrow your arteries, and raise the likelihood of blood clotting. It is generally stressful on the heart, as well. Aside from the dozens of detrimental effects to your body, smoking is a direct cause of temporary increases in blood pressure. Any form of tobacco should really be avoided.

The same goes for alcohol. Having more than three drinks in one sitting will temporarily raise your blood pressure, and long-term drinkers may have more chronic issues with hypertension. Avoid consuming alcohol in the days before your physical. Heavy drinkers should avoid stopping all at once, as it can cause even higher blood pressure. Heavy drinkers should probably also examine whether they are actually fit to be truck drivers, as well.

Around 54% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee every day, with 68% of those consuming it within the first hour of waking up. Technically a psychoactive drug, it gives a kick to certain hormone producers in the brain that give you that energy boost, but it also temporarily, and almost immediately, raises blood pressure.

The effect of caffeine on blood pressure will be even more dramatic in those with already-high blood pressure, so avoid coffee and other sources of caffeine in the hours before your physical.

4. Stay Hydrated, Drink Plenty Of Water

Blood pressure aside, drinking plenty of water is central to maintaining a healthy body and mind, and is directly related to the proper function of many of the body's processes. Simply put, if you do take in enough water, the body will retain more sodium, higher levels of which have been shown to increase blood pressure, as well as the risk of heart attack and stroke for people with already-high blood pressure.

Inadequate water consumption can lead to dehydration, which can actually cause both low and high blood pressure. Increased sodium retention will lead to a gradual closing of the capillary beds, increasing pressure placed on the arteries and increasing blood pressure.

A capillary bed is a concentration of capillaries which supply blood to a specific organ or area of the body. The density of the capillaries in a given bed can vary, depending on the requirements of the area it supports. These areas are an important part of the circulatory system, marking the point where the circulation reaches its terminus and loops back around to allow blood to pass through the heart and become re-oxygenated so that it can return to circulation. Source: What is a Capillary Bed?

5. Relax, Take A Deep Breath, and Meditate To Lower Your Blood Pressure

Many studies have shown not only a link between stress-relieving meditation, yoga, or other relaxation exercise and lower blood pressure, but also other stress-related conditions such as insomnia, depression, and chronic pain.

The idea behind relaxation techniques is to take the mind's attention off of the immediacy of the moment and direct it towards something soothing or calming, increasing your awareness of the body. It's also something that can be learned on your own and practiced nearly anywhere.

Again, there are many positive long-term effects, as well, of staying relaxed and stress-free, as much as possible considering the day-to-day life of the typical truck driver. Beyond helping to control blood pressure, relaxation techniques can:

  • Improve the quality of sleep

  • Improve digestion

  • Help maintain normal blood sugar levels

  • Lower fatigue

  • Reduce frustration or anger

  • Slow your heart rate

  • Reduce muscle tension and chronic back pain

  • Increase blood flow to major muscles

Many people, for their own reasons, or for no reason, experience elevated blood pressure levels only before or during a doctor's visit or other appointment in a clinical setting. This phenomenon has been labeled "white coat hypertension", or "white coat syndrome", and can be at least partially explained by patients' anxiety or stress.

However, a 2015 study on white-coat hypertension found that even though it is generally considered a temporary issue, the mortality rates of people assessed as white-coat hypertensive were much higher than those with normal readings. It also found, though, that those at high risk generally brought with them a variety of other health conditions that most likely contributed to their deaths:

Compared with individuals in whom WCH was unstable, stable WCH was characterized by an older age, a greater body mass index, an increased left ventricular mass, and higher serum cholesterol and glucose values. Thus, factors other than the persistently elevated office BP may be abnormal in stable WCH, its increased cardiovascular risk being thus generated not only by an office BP elevation but also by risk factors other than BP. Adverse Prognostic Value of Persistent Office Blood Pressure Elevation in White Coat Hypertension

By understanding the risks associated with high blood pressure, truck drivers can take proactive steps to manage and lower their blood pressure levels. The following sections will explore five effective ways for truck drivers to prioritize their health and lower their blood pressure while on the road.

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