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Diving with pacemaker

Discussion in 'Dive into Fitness' started by Chandler Clarkson, Apr 11, 2018.

  1. Chandler Clarkson

    Chandler Clarkson Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Florida
    4
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    I have atrial fibrillation and the cardiologist is recommending a pacemaker. I'm wondering if anyone out there dives with a pacemaker. DAN briefly addresses the issue and says one requirement is that the pacemaker is rated to perform at depth (say 130 ft.). Does anyone have any experience with this? I have been an active diver for many years and hate to have to give it up.
     
  2. northernone

    northernone Great White Rest in Peace

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Currently: Cozumel, from Canada
    3,793
    3,382
    113
    A dear dive friend has put upwards of 1000 dives on his pacemaker. This isn't medical advice, but hope it is encouraging.

    Cameron
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2018
  3. Chandler Clarkson

    Chandler Clarkson Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Florida
    4
    4
    3
    Thanks Cameron. That is encouraging.
     
  4. uncfnp

    uncfnp Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina
    5,659
    3,764
    113
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2018
  5. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    25,635
    17,010
    113
    A lot depends upon the specific model of pacemaker and the reason you have one.

    Here is information I posted a number of years ago about a model of St. Jude Pacemaker:
    New Information on Pacemakers

    As you can see, it was tested to 7 atmospheres (about 200 feet) with no problems. It was not tested beyond that. On the other hand, I have seen information from other brands saying that they cannot go below 60 feet, but I suspect that limit was placed without testing.

    The reason that you have a pacemaker becomes an issue. For some people, it is just there to keep the heart from going too slowly during basal metabolism. For others, it keeps them alive.

    Putting those together, if you have a pacemaker that was tested at 7 atmospheres with no signs of problems and you only need it to keep your heart rate from going too low while you sleep, you probably have nothing to worry about. If you have a model that is limited to 60 feet and is necessary to keep you alive, you might want to reconsider your diving career.

    It is interesting that it is being recommended for atrial fibrillation, since to my knowledge it does not really have an effect on that condition. What is its purpose?

    In short, the person to talk to is your cardiologist. If he or she does not have expertise in diving, make a reference to @Dr. Doug Ebersole. He is both a distinguished cardiologist and a technical diving instructor.
     
    northernone likes this.
  6. Chandler Clarkson

    Chandler Clarkson Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Florida
    4
    4
    3
    Thank you. I had found some of these older posts but not all. Very helpful. I have intermittent atrial fibrillation combined with naturally low blood pressure/heart rate. I am in good condition otherwise and exercise regularly. My understanding so far is that I cannot take the medications typically used to treat A-fib because they tend to lower heart rate and I am naturally at the low end to begin with. I am still somewhat confused about just how much a pacemaker can do for A-fib, beyond just keeping the heart rate from dropping too low. Some literature I've seen seems to indicate they "moderate" or "regulate" heart rate without really defining what that means. My treatment may end up being be a combination of medication and pacemaker. I have another appointment with a cardiologist tomorrow and hope to get these questions answered. At my initial appointment I didn't know what to ask. I think a key though is that the pacemaker must be rated for depth/pressure if I want to dive.
     
    boulderjohn and uncfnp like this.
  7. Chandler Clarkson

    Chandler Clarkson Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Florida
    4
    4
    3
    Update to may last post. Had an appointment last Friday with the cardiologist/electrophysiologist that would do the pacemaker procedure. He reviewed my test results and concluded catheter ablation is the preferred treatment for me. No pacemaker, at least for now, and evidently no A-fib drugs. I have an ablation procedure scheduled for April 27. According to the doctor I should be good to dive after recovery. In the mean time I had called St. Jude (Abbott) and Medtronics regarding pressure testing of their pacemakers. St. Jude said all their pacemaker models are now tested to 7 ATM with no problems encountered. Medtronics are tested to 4 ATM.
     
    northernone and uncfnp like this.

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