September 1, 2007
By Kathy Dondzila
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:
The AME has to have all of this information at the time of the FAA physical examination in order to issue your medical certificate in the office. If you don't have it, 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).
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Aviation Medical Examiner,
Pilot Health and Medical,
For pilots, the 60,000-plus-member Civil Air Patrol readily comes to mind when an aerial role in a rescue is launched.
The General Aviation Pilot Protection Act would allow pilots to use the driver’s license medical standard for noncommercial VFR flights in aircraft weighing up to 6,000 pounds with no more than six seats, as long as they carry fewer than five passengers, fly below 14,000 feet msl, and fly no faster than 250 knots.
The basics haven’t changed—flying clubs are still a cost-effective way to fly and enjoy the company of your fellow aviators.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.