## Will a Heart Murmur Disqualify You from Scuba Diving?


Scuba diving is an exciting and rewarding activity that allows people to explore the underwater world. However, there are certain medical conditions that can disqualify someone from scuba diving, including heart murmurs. In this article, we will discuss what heart murmurs are, how they are classified, and whether or not they will disqualify you from scuba diving.

What is a Heart Murmur?

A heart murmur is an extra or abnormal sound that is heard during a heartbeat. It is caused by turbulent blood flow through the heart or blood vessels. Heart murmurs can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

Innocent murmurs: These are common in children and young adults and are not usually associated with any heart disease. They are caused by normal variations in the anatomy of the heart or blood vessels.
Organic murmurs: These are caused by an underlying heart condition, such as a valve defect, hole in the heart, or narrowed artery.

Classification of Heart Murmurs

Heart murmurs are classified based on their timing, location, intensity, and quality.

Timing: Systolic murmurs occur during the contraction of the heart (systole), while diastolic murmurs occur during the relaxation of the heart (diastole).
Location: Murmurs are described by the location where they are best heard on the chest. Common locations include the aortic area, pulmonary area, mitral area, and tricuspid area.
Intensity: Murmurs are graded on a scale of 1 to 6, with 1 being the faintest and 6 being the loudest.
Quality: Murmurs can be described as harsh, blowing, or musical.

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Heart Murmurs and Scuba Diving

Whether or not a heart murmur will disqualify you from scuba diving depends on the type of murmur and its severity.

Innocent Murmurs

Innocent murmurs are generally not a concern for scuba diving. However, if the murmur is loud or if it changes in character, it is important to see a doctor to rule out any underlying heart condition.

Organic Murmurs

Organic murmurs can be more serious and may disqualify you from scuba diving. The following types of organic murmurs are typically disqualifying:

Murmurs caused by valve defects: Valve defects can lead to significant heart problems and are therefore considered disqualifying for scuba diving.
Murmurs caused by holes in the heart: Holes in the heart can allow blood to leak between the chambers of the heart, which can lead to serious complications during scuba diving.
Murmurs caused by narrowed arteries: Narrowed arteries can restrict blood flow to the heart, which can lead to chest pain, shortness of breath, and even death.

Evaluation for Scuba Diving

If you have a heart murmur, you should see a doctor to determine the type and severity of the murmur. The doctor may perform a physical examination, listen to your heart with a stethoscope, and order an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart). Based on the results of the evaluation, the doctor will make a recommendation about whether or not you are fit to scuba dive.


Heart murmurs can be a concern for scuba diving, but not all heart murmurs are disqualifying. If you have a heart murmur, it is important to see a doctor to determine the type and severity of the murmur and to discuss whether or not it will prevent you from scuba diving.

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