Scuba Diving and High Blood Pressure

by Y.C.
(oklahoma city)

I have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and medication is controlling it. Am I still allowed to go scuba diving?


Hi Y.C.,

I will preface this by saying I am not a doctor. You really should consult with your own doctor to see if scuba diving with high blood pressure would be safe for you.

Every patient is different and divers will have different risks depending on their circumstances.

That being said, I looked on the Divers Alert Network (DAN) for their opinion on hypertension and diving.

(If you are not familiar with them, DAN is a highly regarded non-profit "medical and research organization dedicated to the safety and health of recreational scuba divers and associated with Duke University Medical Center."

I have been a member of DAN since I started diving.)

This is what they have to say about diving with high blood pressure:

"Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the most common medical conditions seen in the diving population - no surprise, really, since it is a common medical condition in the general population... A thorough medical evaluation should be performed to find a treatable cause for hypertension; in most cases, however, none will be found...

Fitness and Diving Issue: As long as the individual's blood pressure is under control, the main concerns should be the side effects of medication(s) and evidence of end-organ damage. Divers who have demonstrated adequate control of blood pressure with no significant decrease in performance in the water due to the side effects of drugs, should be able to dive safely.

A recent report in a diving medical journal citing several episodes of acute pulmonary edema (i.e., lungs congested with fluid) in individuals with uncontrolled hypertension
while they were diving. Regular physical examinations and appropriate screening for the long-term consequences of hypertension such as coronary artery disease are necessary...

Many classes of drugs are used to treat hypertension, with varying side effects. Some individuals must change medications after one drug appears to be or becomes ineffective. Others might require more than one drug taken at the same time to keep the blood pressure under control.

Classes of drugs known as beta-blockers often cause a decrease in maximum exercise tolerance and may also have some effect on the airways. This normally poses no problem for the average diver. ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors are the preferred class of drugs for treating hypertensive divers; a persistent cough is a possible side effect.

Calcium channel blockers are another choice, but lightheadedness when going from a sitting or supine position to standing may be a significant side effect.

Diuretics are also frequently used to treat hypertension. This requires careful attention to hydration and electrolyte status. Most anti-hypertensive medications are compatible with diving as long as the side effects experienced by the diver are minimal and their performance in the water is not significantly compromised. Any diver with long-standing high blood pressure should be monitored for secondary effects on the heart and kidneys."

(Above quoted from the Divers Alert Network website www.diversalertnetwork.org.You can find the full article here.)


So although hypertension by itself may not preclude you from diving, I would still consult with your doctor first. It's always better to be safe than sorry.

And if you get the go ahead, you can go diving with no worries. Which is what we all want.

Thanks for your question. I wish you all the best and safe diving.

Dianne



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almost 70 and going diving
by: Anonymous

Hi there. Thanks for the help. My doctor was mystified by the need to see her for clearance and by the concern as she had never heard of it!

Anyway, I am only going mini-subbing, but I am probably not wanted because I am old and on meds. I got a clearance from the Doctor ... sorta....she wrote "OK with precautions" So; what the heck does that mean?!!

Geez

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Thanks for sharing
by: JazzyD!

Richierich,

Thanks for sharing your long history of hypertension and diving. I was diagnosed as hypertensive yesterday. My doc scared the crap out of me as we talked about hypertension and diving. I will have to share with him.

D!

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Diving and Hypertension
by: richierich

Hi guys,

I am a reasonably fit 47 year old who has been diving for 24 years - the last 12 on medication for hypertension up in the top bracket.

I have been using tenormin 100mg a day, natrilix 2.5 mg plus aspirin and lipitor.

So far no troubles at all. I have been down to 35m - just very thirsty when I get back up to the surface. Usually water before and after all ways helps. I think I have had one headache after one dive in all that time. Lots of water and aspirin cleared it up.

I have a check up twice a year and so far so good

Cheers,

Richierich



Hi,

Thanks for sharing your experience. I'm glad it is working for you and you are still able to go diving with no problems.

Have a great time diving and keep healthy!

Dianne


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thank you
by: Anonymous

thank you

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