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Study: Interstate Bus Drivers Have More Risk of Hypertension & Cardio Vascular Diseases Than Truck Drivers

An interstate bus driver’s life is marred by incorrect diet, sedentary behavior, and long duration in a sitting position, etc. These are contributing factors that push them to a high frequency of cardiovascular risk factors, as obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and hyperglycemia, reveals a study by the Government Medical College, Kozhikode.

The study also reveals that professional bus drivers, especially professional medium to heavy motor vehicle drivers are at excess risk of hypertension, hemorrhagic stroke, and myocardial infarction. Bus drivers and drivers who ferry passengers are revealed to be at greater risk than those truck drivers or drivers that carry goods.

Reasons for Hypertension in Occupational Drivers


Drivers are unsung heroes; unfortunately, very few people understand what type of stress they take every day. There are slew of reasons that for their ill-health; while some are self-induced, most of them are occupational hazards including but not limited to the following: 
    1. Traffic Congestion
    2. Exposure to vehicle exhausts
    3. Constant whole-body vibration
    4. Poor condition of Indian roads
    5. Poor town planning and traffic regulation
    6. Over speeding due to tight schedules
    7. Carelessness of pedestrians

Cross-Sectional Studies to Assess Risk of Hypertension Among Drivers

Reasons for Hypertension in Occupational Bus Drivers

Cross-sectional studies were conducted for this research by the 
Government Medical College, Kozhikode in a few busy bus depots in South India. 

The estimated sample size for a study was 88-100 individuals. Drivers who indulged in rigorous physical exercise, smoking, tobacco chewing, or drinking tea or coffee within thirty minutes before BP measurement were excluded. 

Information about their medical history, lifestyle, and occupation was obtained by personal interview using a pretested semi-structured questionnaire.

To measure blood pressure, a mercury column sphygmomanometer and stethoscope were used by the auscultatory method. Before measuring the BP, driver was seated comfortably for at least 15 minutes. Two readings were taken one before and one after the interview with 15 minutes of gap.

Drivers who were diagnosed with BP in the hypertensive range were asked to report one week later and another set of readings was obtained for confirmation. In addition, bus drivers' height and weight were measured, from which body mass index (BMI) was calculated.

Key Findings of the Study

Study: Interstate Bus Drivers Have More Risk of Hypertension & Cardio Vascular Diseases Than Even Truck Drivers

Mean age of the population was 36.52 ± 8.38 (SD) years (range 21–60 years). 

Mean number of family members each driver sustained was 4.93±1.71 (range 2–11). 

Mean number of children per married couple was 1.89±1.03 (range 0–6). 

Mean number of years for which the study subjects were in the job of bus driving was 14.6 ± 8.27 years (range 1–38). On most days they worked for a mean duration of 11.56 ± 1.87 hours (range 5–16).

There was a noteworthy connection between longer duration of employment as bus driver and hypertensive status. Drivers who worked ~14 hours suffered from more from hypertension than normal employees with a 14-hours work schedule.

The study also revealed that bus drivers older than 35 years, supporting more than 4 family members, taking main meals from restaurants on most working days, and longer duration of employment as bus driver were strongly associated with cardiovascular diseases.

Less than 14% of the drivers who participated in the study were aware of their hypertensive status.

Blood pressure levels were exceptionally high in drivers before, during, and just after shift. 

More than 40% of the study population was found to be hypertensive.

The levels of awareness, treatment, and adequate control of hypertension were poor in India compared to the West. 

Less than 20.6% of drivers across India were aware of their hypertensive status.


The study establishes the prevalence of high blood pressure among bus drivers in South India is very high. It can be safely assumed that the scenario is the same pan India. 

One of the primary reasons is a close-to-urban unhealthy lifestyle. Other major reasons are various occupational hazards. 

The study reveals that interstate bus drivers are also at risk of developing coronary artery disease, stroke, and chronic kidney disease in the future, and it will result in a significant increase in mortality and morbidity, further minimizing economic and social participation.

All occupational drivers must be screened for lifestyle diseases periodically. They must be educated about healthy food, and take recreational activities along with professional activities. Studies as such are rare but are very crucial they compel the government to intervene and take appropriate steps to ensure the health of our drivers.

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