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scuba diving and a-fib
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scuba diving and a-fib

Hello:
I am a 53 year old male in good general health. I was however diagnosed with a-fib 6 years ago. I underwent RF ablation 6 months ago and all seems good as of now. My a-fib is paroxsysmal and have no other known issues. My question is; is it o.k. to go scuba diving with this condition, which may have been corrected with the RF procedure. I am currently taking Rythmol 225 and Atenolol 25 twice/day.
Thank you.
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612551_tn?1247839157
I'd check with the doctor before doing any "extreme" anything, e.g., deep or long duration skin diving.

That said, I'd ask what you AFib symptoms are.   If they were mild, then I'd think "casual" skin diving would not be a problem.  

I've taken Rythmol 225 SR twice a day for a while trying to bring my AFib back to NSR, it didn't work..the reason I mention is I didn't have any problematic side effects from the high dose Rythmol.  Do you have any problem side effects?  That could be a driver in your decision too.

Best to talk with your doctor...I'd think that could be done with a simple telephone call the the "office", I'd not think an office visit would be necessary.  My cardiologist has a nurse I can call directly, and for the few occasions that I call with questions, there has never been a financial charge.
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995271_tn?1312416925
I'm a PADI Advanced open water/rescue diver.   Been diving for 20 years.  

I've been on one group dive where someone let us know they have a heart condition.  It was really important to team them up with a better dive partner.  This was just in case they went south at depth, the dive partner would need experience and training on getting them back to the surface.

There are rules on how fast one can surface during a dive.  If you're not trained on this, experienced with it, or black out during a dive this could also get ya.  If you rise too fast and aren't breathing freely you could get an embolism as air in your lungs expands.

Remember the deeper you go the more dangers.   The tank regulators increase the pressure of the air you breath as you descend to compensate for water pressure on your body.  Every 33 feet of water = an increase of 1 atm of pressure.  So at 33 feet you will be breathing air at 28 PSI instead of the normal 14 PSI on the surface.  This means your blood will absorb more gases.    If you brought a balloon down to 33 feet and put air in it, the balloon would double in size when it reaches the surface.

A shallow dive would be a good way to test the waters (no pun intended) then work slowly up to greater depth.  My suggestion would be a 30 minute pool dive to test things out.  Then do open water <30 feet on your first dive keep it under 15 minutes.  Then do <60 feet on a second dive if you want to go deeper.  i would double the dive table recommendations at first to get acquainted.  

I've been on dives at 150 ft, various wrecks.  This was when I was known to have occasional heart PVCs which are a lot different from afib.  Anyways, I never noticed PVCs during the dive or afterwards.

I love diving, but I have been back since I had a vicious PVC flareup about 18 months ago.  I plan on easing my way back in soon, starting with some pool dives then working my way up.  Good luck!

So I would do two things

1.  clear it with your doctor
2.  During the dive let the dive master know what's up and try to get teamed up with a parter who is advanced or rescue certified.

what could aggravate the afib would be blood gases, physical exertion during the dive, and water temp.  Depending on where you dive, there will be something called a "thermocline" in the water.  This is a stark transition point where the water temp can drop 20f+ degrees in a matter of 5 feet.  If you a fib can be aggravated by temp, this could be quite a shocker.  usually the thermocline is around 50-60 feet in my experience.  It's really neat to experience, but you might need a 1/4" wet suit to stay warm once you go deeper than it.

Are you an experience diver? Where are you planning on going?  

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Thank you for your detailed response. I was certified in '84 in San Diego and was an avid diver for 10+ years. I'd go 3 to 4 times a week, including night dives for many years. Then life, marriage, kids etc. turned my free time to other things. I've longed to get back into diving as time has gone by. But now i have this afib thing to content with and not sure if i want to 'chance" anything. I did call my doctor, who performed the ablation procedure and he said he wouldn't recomend it however he said he was probably being extremely cautious. With that, i thought i would try to get some input through this forum...we'll see what happens.
To answer your question, we're going to Bermuda, St. Thomas, Grand Turk and Puerto Rico next week. I guess i'll have to stick to snorkeling and golf...not bad alternatives.
When will you get back into the water? I know once the dive bug bites, it's hard to give up.
Thanks again, Bob
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995271_tn?1312416925
Snorkeling can be just as enjoyable, many divers will say that :-)

I did a pool dive last week to check out my equipment and myself.  It went fine.  I plan on doing a quarry dive August 9th with one of my old dive buddies.  He and I both have young kids so it's really tough to find any time for it.

When i was in St Lucia a few years back I stuck with just snorkeling and didn't feel deprived at all!

Have fun!
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