blood pressure monitor

Can You Scuba Dive With High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure – or hypertension – is a common condition when the force of the blood pushing against the blood vessel walls is consistently too high. This can cause harm as it increases the workload of the heart – making it labour and work less efficiently.

Over time force and friction damage the arteries which can lead to a stroke or heart attack. If you love going on underwater adventures and knowing these facts you may want to learn more about high blood pressure and scuba diving.

Can you scuba dive with high blood pressure? Read on…

Know Your Blood Pressure Numbers

The top figure of your blood pressure reading is the pressure at its highest – called systolic pressure – this should be 120 or less. The bottom number is the pressure at its lowest – known as diastolic – and this figure should be 80 or less. This reading would be given as 120/80.

Potential Risks

Immersion pulmonary oedema – this is the build-up of fluid on the lungs caused by the effects of water submersion on blood vessels in the body and the heart. This can result in shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pains. High blood pressure is a major risk factor here and can end up with a dive being aborted and treatment in hospital.

Cardiovascular issues – if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure this is a factor that can increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Long term effects of high blood pressure present a special concern to divers so regular checks need to be made for heart disease and other possible complications that may reduce the diving capacity for physical exercise – and increase the risk of sudden cardiac death while diving.

Fit for Diving

A thorough medical evaluation will need to be carried out to ensure that you’re fit to dive. You’ll be passed as fit to dive as long as blood pressure is under control, and no main concerns with your overall health and no evidence of heart, kidney or eye damage are found.

Your medical history will be discussed, and you may need to attend a sports diver medical with a specialist. Any side-effects of medication will need to be taken into account:

  • Classes of drugs known as beta-blockers often decrease maximum exercise tolerance and may have an effect on the airways. This is normally not a problem for recreational diving as high exertion levels are not normally needed in the water
  • Diuretics are mainly compatible with diving as long as hydration issues are minimal and water performance isn’t compromised
  • Calcium channel blockers may cause light-headedness which may be significant and need further testing prior to any dives

Lifestyle Changes

Scuba diving with high blood pressure, if controlled properly, doesn’t compromise your fitness to dive. A brief summary of recommendations to keep it regulated is shown here…

  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes each day – simply walking can make your medication work even better
  • Maintain a healthy body weight – blood pressure can be reduced by losing weight
  • Reduce salt intake – eat a diet low in sodium and fats, and high in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Don’t drink or smoke – as these habits both multiply the risk of stroke and recurrent heart disease
  • Get medical evaluations twice annually – especially prior to any diving activities – ensuring blood pressure levels are within the recommended levels

Enjoy the Freedom

As soon as you have the all-clear from your GP, you’ll be able to arrange scuba diving in Playa del Carmen with Koox diving guides. Amazing underwater experiences let you discover beautiful cenotes, unique reefs and marine life, and book dives with whale sharks and crocodiles! And your safety will never be compromised.