Path to your heart (health)

Misty Bell | May 01, 2010
Randy Freels (after)

Freels’ wife has also been following the diet, which he says helps tremendously. He says his back and joints no longer hurt as they did when he carried around the extra pounds. When he’s on the road, he packs his own meals and keeps snacks in his truck to help him stick to his weight-loss plan. “Don’t wait till you get starving to death and get in a truckstop with aisles and aisles of candy and quarter-pound hot dogs and all that stuff,” he advises. “Alcoholics don’t go to bars, and as a food addict, I just don’t go around where I could fall and make bad decisions.”

The motivation to prevent heart problems has provided great incentive for Freels to make the lifestyle changes necessary to lose weight and get healthy.

“I’ve got a new lease on life, and I’m going to stick with it,” he says.

FMCSA heart guidelines

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has multiple heart-related medical guidelines that determine the status of a driver’s CDL. The guidelines include the following:

A driver must not have a current clinical diagnosis of myocardial infarction (heart attack), angina pectoris (chest pain), coronary insufficiency (insufficient blood flow through one or more coronary arteries, or the arteries encircling the heart), thrombosis (blood clots) or any other type of cardiovascular disease that may be accompanied by loss of consciousness, breathlessness, collapse or congestive cardiac failure.

The driver can’t have a clinical diagnosis of high blood pressure likely to interfere with his or her ability to operate a commercial motor vehicle safely. Typically this means if the driver’s blood pressure is higher than 140/90 he or she likely will be granted a temporary medical certification of up to one year with periodic check-ups. With a blood pressure greater than 180/110, the driver cannot be qualified until his or her blood pressure is demonstrated to be below 140/90 with treatment well tolerated.

Additionally, FMCSA requires that the driver not have any established medical history or clinical diagnosis of vascular disease that interferes with his or her ability to operate a CMV safely. Vascular disease includes disorders that affect the integrity of blood vessels and arteries away from the heart; the disorders include peripheral artery disease, renal artery disease, Raynaud’s Disease, Buerger’s disease, peripheral venous disease, varicose veins and venous blood clots.

The key to these regulations is the qualifier that they interfere with an individual’s ability to safely operate a CMV. With some exceptions, such as the specific guidelines for blood pressure levels, many of these guidelines are left to the discretion of the doctor performing the CDL medical exam.

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