Written by Thomas Goering, NCCM USN(RET)
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.]