Sunday, September 8, 2013

Underwater Echocardiogram Reveals Risks To Older Divers

OUCH!  An article I will link reveals that scuba diving may be hazardous to divers older than forty years!  I have been a diver since the age of 16, and this is NOT good news.  Both my wife and I are certified divers.  I have logged hundreds of dives, and only had one emergency, which I dealt with as you can see.  To become a certified diver, one must undergo rigorous classroom, and practical experience.  I am fortunate enough to have been trained by a late student of Jacques Cousteau in the early 1970's.  The traditional and flawed bi-tubed regulator was replaced with a single hose regulator around then.  I was trained how to calculate diving times by depth charts, thus to avoid many horrible medical conditions caused by early de-pressurization.  The curriculum includes many issues as relates to health and safety.  All programs are centered around safety including the buddy system, emergency procedures and basic first aid.  I saw first hand 8 years ago what happens to a diver when they do not follow the rules of decompression.  My wife and I were on a cruise to the caribbean, and we took a sport dive near Roatan.   We dove in calm seas, and 45 minutes later rose to find the seas were troubled by ten foot swells, and dark clouds with windy conditions.  Tropical Storm!  We quickly got on the dive boat with horrible thoughts about getting shipwrecked.  Nobody said anything about a possible tropical storm.  We chugged back to Roatan fighting waves the size of  humpback whales, and made it to the cove in time to see another dive boat dock.  As we were carrying our gear towards Antony's Key Resort  We spied a gurney with a diver on it being pulled towards the recompression facility.  We watched in horror as the diver was convulsing on the gurney, and all that diving training came back into my mind.  Diving is serious stuff.  My wife is a nurse, and she had a fit as this guy was pulled into the medical facility.  Did he survive?  We have no idea.  The most probable explanation was the dude surfaced too rapidly because of the weather. This was certainly a dramatic part of our vacation.

So what about my emergency?  I bet you are waiting to hear my story.  Simply put, I started after a manta ray (docile and looking like a Klingon Warship) wanting to ride it.  I have ridden a manta ray once when I was younger.  The are plankton feeders, so no teeth to worry about.  I descended too rapidly and became hyper-ventilated.  The dive master realised my issue and assisted me in a controlled ascent.  It was an emergency.  I got on the boat and breathed through a paper bag for a few moments and got back in the water knowing that if I did not attack my fear, I would never dive again.  That happened 30 years ago.  Good training is key.  I recommend sport diving (Not cave diving, which I have done) to all who are trained rigorously.  Here is the link to the article I mentioned at the top.  Thanks for your time.  TJW

Scuba diving is growing in popularity among older Americans and heart attacks and unknown heart rhythms are the most common cause of diving-related deaths after age 40, according to the Divers Alert Network, a nonprofit research group.
The study, conducted in Italy, involved 18 scuba divers, including 16 men and two women. The participants were about 42 years old and each had made at least 100 dives. None smoked or had hypertension, heart or lung disease.

Thanks WSJ

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