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Hypertension and the MEPS Physical

Pulse Rate and Blood Pressure

Written by
Published: April 16, 2010
Updated: February 13, 2019

It is not uncommon for an applicant to have initial blood pressure readings that are out of standards when taking the physical at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). Many times it is just nerves or what is know as the White Coat Syndrome, but it can also be an indication of hypertension, so steps will be taken to ensure the high readings are not chronic or related to hypertension.

Information related to blood pressure taken directly from DoDI 6130.03 (Change 1), the instruction used by the MEPCOM;

Current or medically managed hypertension. Hypertension is defined as systolic pressure greater than 140 mmHg and or diastolic pressure greater than 90 mmHg confirmed by manual blood pressure cuff averaged over two or more properly measured, seated, blood pressure readings on each of 2 or more consecutive days [is disqualifying] (isolated, single-day blood pressure elevation is not disqualifying unless confirmed on 2 or more consecutive days).

I have not been asked about pulse rate, but I decided to add the information because I do recall losing a few applicants over the years for tachycardia (heart beats too fast). The MEPS medical folks, during your physical, will hook you up to an automatic blood pressure and pulse rate machine. If on the first try everything is normal, then you move on to the other parts of the physical with no worries about blood pressure or pulse issues. If you do have a pulse reading out of standards, greater than or equal to 100 beats per minute (BPM), then you will be re-checked on the automatic machine no more than two additional times (provided the MEPS doctor has approved your continuing after the first check; rare that they don’t allow it) – if you get a reading below 100BPM on either of those re-checks, you are good-to-go; if your additional readings are 100BPM or higher then you will receive one manual reading – if it is 100BPM or above, you will be disqualified.

The procedure is much the same for blood pressure as it is for pulse readings. Abnormal readings are diastolic measurements greater than 90mmHg and/or systolic measurements greater than 140mmHg. If your initial blood pressure reading by the automatic machine is abnormal, the blood pressure will be rechecked with no more than two additional readings at no less than 15-minute intervals. If the average of the three readings is abnormal, one manual blood pressure reading will be completed. A manual blood pressure reading of 140/90 or lower is qualifying. If your manual blood pressure reading is higher than 140/90, you will be medically disqualified and urged to seek follow-up care with your family doctor.

When you go and see your doctor, you will need to document two new blood pressure readings as indicated by the DoDI reference quoted above. Any medical waiver recommendation will be based on those blood pressure readings averaged with the reading achieved at the MEPS during the initial physical.

I haven’t answered your questions, feel free to email me or post your question as a comment.]



367 Responses to “Pulse Rate and Blood Pressure”


  1. John says:

    I might be back to Meps over here at [Location redacted for privacy] this week or the next one. I was cleared to go back to finish the process after I submitted the two BP readings the Meps doctor told me to get. Since I’m kinda anxious and excited about going back, I fear that they’ll take new readings, and because of my nervousness or whatever, end up getting a high reading. I’m positive that that’s not gonna happen, but still I wanted to ask; they won’t take a new reading after I submitted both readings I got from my doctor, right? I was approved to go back and finish after all, so I’m assuming they won’t take new readings there.

    I get nervous cause I want this so bad…

  2. NCCM(Ret) says:

    John,

    You should be fine. I assume they have averaged your readings; the MEPS and the two you provided and the average met the standard, or the readings didn’t, and they have run the waiver and you have been approved. Your recruiter should be able to tell you what to expect when you get to MEPS.

  3. Steven B says:

    I must get a two day blood pressure reading. The form says signed by my physician. I normally use a full practice nurse practitioner. Are they allowed to sign this test result form ?

  4. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Steven B.,

    I assume so — the MEPS I had dealt with in the past would have taken it with that signature, but you need to have your recruiter ask your local MEPS service liaison to see what the Chief Medical Officer will accept to be sure.

  5. Sam says:

    Hi NCCM(Ret),

    Happy new year. Could you explain in detail the blood test with MEPS? Is it a 5 panel––amphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, Opiates, PCP––or do they test for other substances?

  6. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Sam,

    Starting about a year ago, MEPS expanded their drug test to mirror that given to active duty members. It is a urine test that looks to everything from mushrooms to synthetics.

  7. Sam says:

    Thank you. 3 Follow ups:

    1. On the link you provided, you write the “DoD guidelines include the following confirmatory test cutoffs for the specified drug/metabolites.” So drugs not on that list will not be tested for? Say I’ve taken a large amount of tylenol or ibuprofen, or some other prescription drug.

    2. Since MEPS screens for all military branches, would they find discrepancies among different applications? e.g. Navy app disclosed previous medical condition, Air Force app made no disclosure.

    3. All of this information is stored by them for later applications, correct? e.g. an application submitted in 2017 that disclosed a medical condition, but the 2018 application made no such disclosure. They’ll see that?

  8. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Sam,

    They don’t test for tylenol. The list on that page with levels is not all inclusive. Even if you went to MEPS twenty years ago for a different branch and you were disqualified, they still have the record. Minimally, you will have a “3” somewhere in your PULHES, or you will have an “N” code. Point is, since the introduction of the nationwide MEPS computerized database, they have kept everything.

  9. John says:

    Happy new year to you, and to all reading this! Just wanted to ask a question, have the Navy and Air Force returned to recruiting duty? I heard they were out since Christmas.

  10. NCCM(Ret) says:

    John,

    They should be back tomorrow.

  11. John says:

    Ok! Thank you very much!

  12. Mason says:

    Hi, I am going through this same thing. Do the two new blood pressure readings have to be successive or can they be done anytime as long as you get two good readings?

  13. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Mason,

    My understanding was they always had to be over consecutive days. You may want to ask your recruiter for what your local MEPS expects.

  14. Mason says:

    MEPS told me to get two readings. So I got 130/80 and 138/88 and my manual BP I took at MEPS was 150/98. Those average out to be 139/89 which is passing. I was wondering In my case will they use four statistics or three to figure out the average? Because I remember I took two BP tests at MEPS. Do they use both in the average or just the manual?

  15. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Mason,

    I don’t know which specific readings the MEPS CMO will you, but being so close to the standard, I would not be surprised if you are disqualified and recommended for a waiver, and with no hypertension diagnosis, those are usually granted.

  16. Mason says:

    I could get a waiver? What would I do to get one of those granted?

  17. John says:

    Greetings to you all! Just wanted to update you with my case, and I have great news! So I went back to MEPS last week, and turns out that what they did was just average my two BP readings I got from my doctor, with the readings I had at MEPS, and I met the standards. I don’t know how they do it for other cases, but in my case, they did not take new readings (I was nervous because I thought they would). I was just inspected for height and weight, and continued the process. I took the oath of enlistment, and I’m in the DEP program. I know this is mainly a Navy website, but to everyone, especially Air Force applicants… Aim High! If your BP is not crazy over the limits, you’ll be fine.

  18. Mason says:

    Thank you for answering my questions. I too was concerned about the average being too high but MEPS cleared me.

  19. Elly says:

    I recently got a holter monitor test done and the result is fine. All is normal except that i have sinus arrythmia (w/c the doctor told me is normal with people around my age,25 years old.) Does having sinus arrythmia disqualify me from joining the navy? Although the doctor told me everything’s normal and i am fit to do physical training.

  20. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Elly,

    Not being a blood pressure or pulse rate question, and the fact that NavyDoc does not answer on this page, I recommend posting your question to this medical waiver processing page he does routinely reply to.

    Sorry for any inconvenience.

  21. maranda says:

    My BP at MEPS was 150/90, I went to my doctor had it taken two days in a roll both normal. I sent my recruiter the certified letter provided by my physician that same day. My recruiter said it could be 2 weeks to a month until I hear back form MEPS. Is two weeks to a month the normal process time? I am ready to get this ball rolling!

  22. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Maranda,

    If MEPS ultimately disqualified you based on the average of the three readings, and a waiver has been submitted, then, yes, the time frame provided is accurate. But, your recruiter should be able to give you an indication within five working days whether MEPS qualified you or disqualified you and recommended a waiver.

  23. Luis says:

    Grettings

    My recruter send my blood pressure doc. I got 130/80mmhg 140/80mmhg. even thought on MEPS they wrote 170/80 on the paper.
    Im qualifide or not ?

  24. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Luis,

    You would require a waiver; your average is above the maximum BP allowed.

  25. Luis says:

    Thanks for the info.
    That 170 is what they wrote in the paper. My firts BP was 151/83 because of my nervers. Si you know hiw they average the BP. And if Im a go or my process stop o ut of the bat.

  26. Luis says:

    And on the récord for the PUL. Apperears 151/83

  27. Luis says:

    Sorry for ask, is because Im very scare about my process. I Will like ti know if im good to continue or not ?

  28. Mason says:

    Hi, I was wondering if at Air Force BMT they test your blood pressure again? I am going through on the Reserve side meaning I do not have to go to MEPS a second time. It seems strange if they tested it at BMT because you would think everybody would have high blood pressure.

  29. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Mason,

    Yes, your blood pressure will be checked at boot-camp.

  30. Cesar says:

    Hi, I was just wondering what the wait time on 2807 waiver. When I went to MEPS my pluse was high which I don’t understand maybe due to being nervous. They gave me a paper to check my pulse three time for two days. I did that and it was in the low hundred, and then got a letter from doctor stating that I’m health to join and there was nothing wrong with my heart rate, but I turn it to my recruiter and was send in on April 5. Its Been over a month now and still haven’t been approved yet. I just want to know why, even my recruiter doesn’t know why is it taking so long to approve me or not. I really want to join and serve my country but this long wait is discouraging.

  31. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Cesar,

    If your heart rate was above 100 each time it was tested, you would be disqualified. Your recruiter can check to see if a waiver was recommended and submitted.

  32. Mason says:

    Thank you for answering my questions it means more than you know. Are there any Air Force people who have had high blood pressure while going through BMT or know someone who has? Will they discharge you or will they look at the severity of it and try to treat you?

  33. Luis says:

    My 2 BP with my DR where 120/80 My recruiter sent it to MEPS that BP is good or bad ?

  34. Luis says:

    My first 2 with my dr where 140/80, 130/80. MEPS replay back to my recruiter that i had to retake back my BP and i did all the exercises as posible and none Sodium at all, so when I took it again I got 120/80 and 120/80 in my last BP. My recruiter sent it. Now I’m waiting to see if I continue my process. I will like to now if now I’m good to go or I’ll need a waiver.

  35. Shay says:

    Hi! Not sure if replies are still submitted but I just wanted some quick reassurance. I was sent home after my first MEPS visit without swearing in because of issues with my blood pressure. Since I felt like everything was fine and no one told me anything about it afterwards, i didn’t even bother checking for what my blood pressure actually was. I didn’t find out that there was issues with it until after all my test we’re done. So i was sent home and told to get 2 consecutive readings at my family doctor. BAM done, sent readings to my recruiter who immediatly sent them to MEPS afterwards on July 18, 2018. Since I got 3(forgetting that they had to be consecutive days instead of Friday then Monday), they all we’re 116/70, 127/90, and 126/88. My thing is, should I have anything to worry about? I’m stressing hard about this because I worked really hard to get this far because of other obstacles.

  36. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Shay,

    It depends on your MEPS reading — I assume you will require a medical waiver when they average the MEPS reading with your listed diastolic being as high as they are.

  37. Shay says:

    Thanks for the response. I’m assuming the waiver approval could be a long shot for me since my branch choice is the Air Force. If this things do not work out, I’d be the only person in my family not able to join the military due to sudden high blood pressure. But I get the phone call tomorrow. I am paranoid.

  38. Jose [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    Even if I get my waiver at MEPS, do the navy check my bp on boot camp? and if i get a high reading they send me back home?

  39. Shay says:

    ALSO, do you know if they will add that first blood pressure to the average? It was taken a few Fridays ago by mistake at my doctor because I forgot it had to be 2 days in a row. I got the other 2 done Monday and Tuesday last week.

  40. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Jose,

    If at boot-camp they determine you have hypertension, it is likely they will send you home.

  41. Shay says:

    I still didn’t get that phone call from the recruiter like I was told. But I still wanted to know if meps would use all three readings in the average even though one of the dates is 2 days prior to the consecutives dates that I had gotten them done. The requirement was 2 readings but came out to 3. The details are in my original post.

  42. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Shay,

    I don’t know what readings the MEPS would use to create the average, but if I was them, I would take the two worst ones; disqualifying you if over the limit, and then let the branch of service determine whether a medical waiver is warranted.

  43. Shay says:

    I messaged you last moth and here is just an update. So I have a new recruiter since my last one moved out of state unexpectadley. But through some sort of good luck I had, I am moving on to the stuff I left off at MEPS. Just have to interview and swear in now. I stressed really hard these last few weeks and I guess it was kind if worth it. Just wonder if I’d have to spend the night again when I do go back. I’d ask my recruiter but It’s super hard to catch him. By the way, I am going by shuttle and being picked up at my last recruiters old office.

  44. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Shay,

    I have no idea the transportation nor lodging set-up for each recruiting station. It is likely that if you had to spend the night the first time, you would have to again.

  45. Jason says:

    Hello.

    Trying to get some clarification. So if thy send me home after initial HBP reading with the notice to get two consecutive day reading from PCP, is this my request for wiaver when i send the results to my recruiter/MEPS? Or is the waiver actually requested if I my readings are still too high?

    I also went through everything in regards to medical portion of MEPS. The ACMO wrote down that I was able to proceed with processing so I did. Was handed the ugly sheet where they wrote down my lower BP results and asked me to go get two consecutive day readings from PCP. A kick in the gonads honestly, since it was at the end of it all where I saw the light at the tunnel, but what can you do? They made their decision.

    So again, question is when exactly is the waiver submitted?; when they ask for the two consecutive day readings? Or if after they received the two readings and I fail still?

    Thank you.

  46. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Jason,

    If a waiver is ultimately required, they will not send it in for consideration until the readings asked for by the MEPS are received by them. They will average your reading at MEPS to the two you have sent in.

  47. Jason says:

    Thank you for the response.

    My next question is in regards to after the approval to have me sworn in. If they take my blood pressure reading at RTC and it turns out to be high at that time too (due to the white coat syndrome), will they dischage me and send me home? Even though I was allowed to proceed to enlist with all proof provided to MEPS that my BP is actually normal when not around the medical technicians or physicians?

    Thank you sir.

  48. will P says:

    My anxiety waiver was approved on july 26th for the Marine Corps. We went to swear in on the 30th, only to find out i ALSO needed a waiver for tachycardia. Ironically i sent in a three pulse/BP reading with all my anxiety paperwork. How long should it take to hear on the waiver for the pulse issue? My recruiter is annoyed at how long it is taking-he says I should have zero issues getting in-IF it ever comes through.

  49. NCCM(Ret) says:

    will P,

    All medical issues are considered by the waiver authority at the same time; in this case, your entire MEPS physical would be sent to BUMED (Marine Corps uses them, and they take 4 to six months). BUMED will review and consider the entire record including all lab results and tests (including pulse and BP, hearing, etc.) even if those issues were not a concern. When BUMED has made their determination, they will generate a letter (your recruiter should be able to show you a copy of it). The letter will contain a list of all disqualifying factors that they found in the physical (even if MEPS missed it), and they will then say in the letter whether all of those conditions are waived or now — they DO NOT make a determination for each separate medical issue — they do not say, approved for anxiety, but disapproved for whatever.

    Ask your recruiter for a copy of the BUMED letter — it is very easy for him/her to get a copy, so if he/she says they cannot, then I doubt a waiver to BUMED has yet been run and received.

  50. will p says:

    howlong does it take generally to get an appointment with the cardiologist for the corps? my recruiter said if i pass it then im good to go.

  51. Wes says:

    Can a person be a NAVET if they Re4 discharge code but were discharged general under honorable conditions?

  52. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Wes,

    A NAVET (Navy Veteran) is anyone who served in the Navy. An RE-4 discharge code is not authorized to receive waiver consideration for reenlistment.

  53. will p says:

    UPDATE!! I swore in this morning for the United States Marine Corps-just wanted to let those getting discouraged on their wait times to NOT give up-it CAN happen!!

  54. DJ says:

    Hello everyone! I hope to join the Navy very soon. I have had hypertension for at least 6 years and I’ve been on medication for all 6 years. Recently I’ve lost about 50 pounds and I’m still working on losing more. Since I’ve had such a dramatic diet and exercise change I no longer have the need to take the meds. My doctor should be taking me completely off of it next month. My question is, is there anyone here who has had actual history of hypertension and took medication that actually got in and made it? From what I understand, you have to be off of the meds for at least 6 months and show stable BP measurements during that time. However, I’ve also heard that you’re completely disqualified… any information on this would be great. Thanks!

  55. NCCM(Ret) says:

    DJ.,

    After 12 months off medication, with proper documentation of BP monitoring and all normal levels, you would no longer be disqualified. Make sure you have that documentation so it can accompany your medical prescreening documents to MEPS.

  56. Ron says:

    My son had a heart rate of over 100 and needed two consecutive readings for him to get a clearance to head back the MEPS to finish. He averaged low 60s, Although the doctor diagnosed him with the white coat syndrome and prescribed him 25 mg of atenolol for a short term to calm him. The doctor described all of this in his clearance. Will he be ok even though he beat it with the atenolol? Or will he be disqualified for it?

  57. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Ron,

    Having received a prescription to control his pulse rate will likely disqualify him, and a waiver is not likely to be considered until he has been off the medication for at least six months with normal pulse readings.

  58. Brandon says:

    Had to submit two consecutive readings, 150/87 at MEPS, 133/77 and 110/70 from physician, average 131/78 is that cutting it close to being disqualified ?

  59. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Brandon,

    Ultimately, you should be fine.

  60. Donald says:

    So after going through everything in MEPs I find out that everything is good except for my blood pressure. So they give me the paper where I have to go to the doctor three consecutive days each apart to get blood pressure readings. So I go to the doctor and do a bunch of tests like the chest x-ray urin and blood sample the ekg and everything was fine. The doctor wrote on the paper that I am 100% fine and healthy and that I have white coats hypertension which pretty much means I don’t have high blood pressure at all but it gets high around docters. So I give all my paperwork back to my recruiter and three weeks later I messaged her and she says she got it back but it was a disqualification and that she will see what else she can do. How could it be a disqualification if the doctor literally wrote on the paper that I don’t have high blood pressure. And what else could she do?

  61. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Donald,

    Much depends on what your average of the readings were — including the one accomplished at the MEPS. If the average was above 140/90, you would be disqualified no matter what your doctor might have written. It is up to the branch of service you are processing for to consider a medical waiver. During the waiver consideration, the branch of service medical waiver authority will then take into account the doctor’s findings. To what your recruiter can do from here, find out if a waiver can be sent for consideration.

  62. Donald says:

    But why would the average blood pressures Matter if the doctor already said that I have white coat hypertension which means my blood pressure goes up and down randomly but I don’t actually have high blood pressure.

  63. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Donald,

    Because the DoD guidance says so (DoDI 6130.03). If your BP averaged above 140/90, you are considered to have hypertension for the process of enlisting. It is up to your branch of service to waive it (if they will consider it), and during that process is when they will consider what your doctor found.

  64. Donald says:

    Oh I’m sorry I see I’m missing the rest of my question. OK so see applied for a waiver and four weeks later I message her back asking what’s going on and that’s when she tells me it was declined but she will figure out what else she can do. She hasn’t messaged me back yet it’s been about 2 weeks. And that’s a little confusing considering the doctor even wrote on the paper that I don’t have high blood pressure and have never had history of it

  65. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Donald,

    If the waiver authority has disapproved the waiver, then there is nothing you can do but either try a different branch of service, or get to a point where your blood pressure can continually average the 140/90 or less.

  66. Shani says:

    My son is 19 and super lean, muscular and healthy. No problems at MEPS. Went to boot camp and passed the physical fitness and the swim test. After a full week at camp they waited until right after breakfast and did a blood sugar and told him it was two points high. He asked them to retest it and they refused. He was separated for it and then they told him he needed a waiver for his blood sugar and that he had history of adhd and needs to have waiver for that and can’t come back for 6 months. Sounds like they tried to find a reason to get rid of him?

  67. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Shani,

    If the history of ADHD was not included in his original MEPS physical, then it is likely he would be discharged for fraudulently enlisting. A waiver for that is not likely. He should have a copy of his discharge DD-214, and on it would have his RE-Code and reason for separation. If you are not able to decipher the separation code on the DD-214, feel free to post it here or email me with it via the contact me link, and I will let you know specifically as I can what it means.

    There is no required minimum waiting period after discharge before a waiver could be considered. Boot-camp routinely tells folks six months, but the waiting time, if any, is totally at the discretion of recruiting command — same as to whether a waiver will even be considered.

    Each branch spends way to much time and money on getting qualified people. Due to that investment, they do not look for reasons to just get rid of people.

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