American Heart Month takes place each February to raise awareness of the dangers of heart disease. Since its first observance in 1964, improvements in medical research, treatment, and public education have greatly helped people live longer and healthier lives. But heart disease is still America’s top health threat and killer, claiming around 2,300 lives each day.

Heart disease is a major health problem among truck drivers. Research shows that truck drivers have higher heart disease rates than other workers. Truck drivers also have a higher prevalence of heart disease risk factors, including obesity, hypertension, and smoking. These risks stem from lifestyle and occupational factors such as irregular schedules, long hours, physical inactivity, high stress, and limited healthy food options on the road. Age, gender, family history, and social factors can also influence a person’s risk of heart disease. People with poor heart health are also at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Heart Disease and Trucking Safety

Heart disease can interfere with the ability to control and drive a truck safely. In a sample of 182 fatal truck collisions, the National Transportation Safety Board attributed 10% of collisions to medical problems, with 90% of them being heart-related. A recent study also shows a link between heart disease risk and crashes among truck drivers. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease, a result of high blood pressure and plaque buildup in the arteries. The buildup can create blood clots that block blood flow to the heart, which can lead to a heart attack. Truck drivers who feel a heart attack approaching should immediately pull over to a safe area and call 911. Warning signs of a heart attack can differ between men and women. While chest pain and discomfort are most common to both, women are more likely to have the following symptoms:

  • Back and/or jaw pain.
  • Nausea, shortness of breath, cold sweats, and dizziness.
  • Unusual fatigue.
  • Indigestion and abdominal pain.
  • Pain and discomfort when resting or sleeping.

As it raises safety risks, heart disease can potentially disqualify a truck driver from holding a commercial driver license. Don’t wait to be disqualified or for a serious incident to occur before taking your heart health seriously. In addition to following your doctor’s orders, consider adopting these healthy habits to prevent heart disease:

  • Control your blood pressure.
  • Keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Manage stress.
  • Manage diabetes.
  • Get enough sleep.

Companies can help their drivers beat heart disease by enhancing their safety programs to include:

  • Training on healthy diets, smoking cessation, exercise breaks, and stress management.
  • Providing fitness facilities at your terminals, locating truck stops that have them, and offering gym memberships.
  • Teach drivers about power naps and sleep hygiene.
  • Have incentive programs that motivate and reward healthy lifestyles.
  • Provide health insurance.
  • Allow time in driving schedules for medical visits.



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