Answers for Pilots

Chill out

September 1, 2007

Controlling your blood pressure

Nearly one-third of the adult population in the United States has high blood pressure (properly called hypertension) according to the American Heart Association, and, amazingly, more than half of those afflicted are doing nothing to control it. For pilots, keeping blood pressure controlled is essential in order to qualify for medical certificates. Current Federal Aviation Regulations do not impose blood pressure limits for any class of medical certificate; however, the FAA has established a policy by which persons with controlled blood pressure may be certified at any class of medical.

For medical certification purposes, the FAA considers blood pressure controlled when the average sitting blood pressure does not exceed 155mm mercury systolic and 95mm mercury diastolic with or without medication. If you need medication to keep your blood pressure within acceptable limits, rest easy knowing that the FAA currently allows most FDA-approved anti-hypertension agents, including diuretics, angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium channel blocking agents, direct vasodilators, or combinations of these agents.

So, how do you prepare for your FAA medical exam if your previously normal blood pressure has risen above the allowable limits since the last time you saw your aviation medical examiner (AME), and your doctor has put you on one of the allowed medications to keep it down?

You'll need to bring the aviation medical examiner a current cardiovascular evaluation that includes:

  • A report from your treating doctor that should include pertinent personal and family history, an assessment of risk factors for coronary heart disease; a clinical examination that includes at least three blood pressure readings; a summary of medications and dosages; and statements regarding any side effects.
  • The AME can then complete the Hypertension Worksheet in his office at the time of your aviation medical exam.
  • If you don't have the report from your treating physician, the examiner can hold the application for up to 10 working days to allow you to get the information to complete the evaluation. Otherwise, the application will be deferred to the FAA without the reports, and it could take three months or longer before your medical certificate is issued. So, it's in your best interest to show up at the AME's office with all of the paperwork in hand.

For more information, contact the AOPA Pilot Information Center Medical Certification department, 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672).

Membership Q&A

Answers to frequently asked questions about your AOPA membership

Q: Whom should I contact if I don't want to receive phone calls from AOPA?

A: Contact Member Services either by e-mail or telephone (800/872-2672, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time) and let us know your preferences. You can also specify your e-mail and mail preferences as well.

Q: I forgot my password for the members-only section of the AOPA Web site. What should I do?

A: Try to go into the Members-Only area and when you're prompted for your username and password, look for a link that references login or password assistance. Click and enter the e-mail address you have on file with AOPA and your zip code. We'll e-mail a new password to you automatically at that address. If you don't see the message in your inbox shortly after you put in your request, check your e-mail box's spam/junk mail folder as well in case your Internet provider places it there instead of directly to your inbox. If you're still having trouble, contact us and we'll be glad to help.

Q: Do you provide any membership phone support after your normal business hours?

A: Yes. On the weekends and in the evenings after 6 p.m. (ET), you can use our automated voice system to renew your membership, enroll in Automatic Annual Renewal, or reset your password if you're having trouble logging into our Web site. Simply call 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672) and follow the prompts.

Contact information

Phone: 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672), from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time from Monday through Friday
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: Update your personal information, renew your membership, and much more by clicking on My AOPA Membership in the left column of our home page.

Kathy Dondzila

Kathy Dondzila | Manager, Technical Communications, Pilot Information Center

Technical Communications Manager, Kathy Dondzila, joined AOPA in 1990 and is an instrument-rated private pilot.