Useful Guidelines For Divers With Heart Disease

Smiling Diver

There are currently between 2.7 and 3.5 million active scuba divers in the USA, according to a report by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association. Scuba diving is not only a relaxing activity, but also one that boasts many physical and mental health benefits, and many more people are now taking it up as a sport. Although scuba is generally considered low-risk, there are certain individuals who are at a greater risk of encountering a problem while diving. This includes anyone who has had a heart attack or anyone who is living with cardiac disease. While it may not be necessary to give up on diving altogether, there are definitely a number of health and safety guidelines to follow to ensure you remain as safe in the water as possible.

Take it easy after a heart attack

Although health-related scuba deaths are rare, heart conditions are responsible for up to 30% of these. In order to resume diving after a heart attack, it is therefore very important to first make sure that your heart is strong enough to endure the physical stress of a dive. Don’t take to the water before you have been given the all-clear by your doctor, who will likely perform an exercise stress test and echocardiogram. Even if your medical team does give you the green light to go diving, always take extra care, and pay close attention to your body for any warning signs of a secondary attack. The same guidelines are applicable to anyone who wants to get back in the water following heart surgery.

Be mindful of possible hereditary conditions

Apart from heart attacks and cardiac surgery, scuba divers also have to be mindful of hereditary heart conditions and the impact they may have on their lives. Although there are a number of hereditary heart conditions that don’t pose an immediate danger to divers, those that can result in sudden cardiac arrest are a cause for concern. Structural and electrical cardiac defects such as cardiomyopathy and Long QT Syndrome can cause sudden cardiac arrest in both children and adults. If there is a known history of these or other hereditary heart diseases, it is vital that a diver follows professional medical advice at all times.

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Focus on leading a heart-healthy lifestyle

Apart from working closely with their medical team, scuba divers with known cardiac concerns can also make the effort to improve their overall wellbeing and boost their chances of returning to the water. Giving up smoking and alcohol consumption is a given when you have heart disease. Following a heart-friendly diet and engaging in regular exercise is also very important to both cardiac patients and divers. If you are a scuba diver with a heart problem, it is doubly important.

Living with cardiac disease does not necessarily mark the end of your diving. By working closely with your medical team and staying healthy, you may soon find yourself exploring the oceans again.

Diving with a heart murmur

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crollae

I have just recently been diagnosed with a heart murmur. I have only been diving for a few months now. Is there any chance that the diving could have caused the heart murmur or made an already existing murmur worse due to the increase in pressure? I am otherwise very fit and healthy.

A worried Diver

Tanked Monkey

Contributor

A heart murmur can be a symptom of one of many different physiological problems. Do you know what is causing your murmur (mis-shapen valves, leaky valves, etc)?

crollae

A heart murmur can be a symptom of one of many different physiological problems. Do you know what is causing your murmur (mis-shapen valves, leaky valves, etc)?

Thank you for your reply.

I do not know as yet what is causing it. I am going for an Echocardiogram in a couple of days so will know more then.

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ScubaFreak

Contributor

welcome to the board. In answer to you question, a friend and fellow instructor, also has a murmur. When he visited docs, they advised him not to dive, but said it was simply a precautionary measure, however he is due for a procedure in the next couple of weeks, to correct the issue, and seemingly, he should be cleared to dive after that without any problems.

So my advice to you (and I’m not a doc) is to go ahead and give DAN a call. They will be able to direct you in the direction you need to go, but I figured if I shared my friends situation it might give you an idea how things work.

Dr. Doug Ebersole

Contributor

As a diver and cardiologist, I would recommend not diving until the echocardiogram. There are a multitude of things that can cause “murmurs”, ranging from the very benign to the very serious. The “murmur” you have is unlikely to prevent you from diving unless there is a critical narrowing of one of the valves, but I’d wait to dive until you know for sure what you are dealing with. Once you have an exact diagnosis based on the echo results, give DAN a call for their recommendations. Feel free to PM me as well. I would be happy to explain the diagnosis and implications to you, both diving and otherwise.

IANTD and TDI CCR Trimix Instructor
Florida Sales Agent, Kiss Rebreathers

Diving with a heart murmur

Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world’s largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

Benefits of registering include

  • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
  • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
  • You can make this box go away

Joining is quick and easy. Log in or Register now!

crollae

I have just recently been diagnosed with a heart murmur. I have only been diving for a few months now. Is there any chance that the diving could have caused the heart murmur or made an already existing murmur worse due to the increase in pressure? I am otherwise very fit and healthy.

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A worried Diver

Tanked Monkey

Contributor

A heart murmur can be a symptom of one of many different physiological problems. Do you know what is causing your murmur (mis-shapen valves, leaky valves, etc)?

crollae

A heart murmur can be a symptom of one of many different physiological problems. Do you know what is causing your murmur (mis-shapen valves, leaky valves, etc)?

Thank you for your reply.

I do not know as yet what is causing it. I am going for an Echocardiogram in a couple of days so will know more then.

ScubaFreak

Contributor

welcome to the board. In answer to you question, a friend and fellow instructor, also has a murmur. When he visited docs, they advised him not to dive, but said it was simply a precautionary measure, however he is due for a procedure in the next couple of weeks, to correct the issue, and seemingly, he should be cleared to dive after that without any problems.

So my advice to you (and I’m not a doc) is to go ahead and give DAN a call. They will be able to direct you in the direction you need to go, but I figured if I shared my friends situation it might give you an idea how things work.

Dr. Doug Ebersole

Contributor

As a diver and cardiologist, I would recommend not diving until the echocardiogram. There are a multitude of things that can cause “murmurs”, ranging from the very benign to the very serious. The “murmur” you have is unlikely to prevent you from diving unless there is a critical narrowing of one of the valves, but I’d wait to dive until you know for sure what you are dealing with. Once you have an exact diagnosis based on the echo results, give DAN a call for their recommendations. Feel free to PM me as well. I would be happy to explain the diagnosis and implications to you, both diving and otherwise.

IANTD and TDI CCR Trimix Instructor
Florida Sales Agent, Kiss Rebreathers

Source https://www.thescubanews.com/2021/03/23/useful-guidelines-for-divers-with-heart-disease/

Source https://scubaboard.com/community/threads/diving-with-a-heart-murmur.96060/

Source https://scubaboard.com/community/threads/diving-with-a-heart-murmur.96060/#:~:text=The%20%22murmur%22%20you%20have%20is%20unlikely%20to%20prevent,recommendations.%20Feel%20free%20to%20PM%20me%20as%20well.

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