Scuba diving with an ICD

Is anyone out there a diver? I have been diving now several times without any problems with my ICD to depths of no more than about 110 feet. I survived an SCA in 2007, and have had subsequent events that required shocks, but now all my arrythmias seem to be controlled on amioderone. I couldn't really find any information on the subject (diving), so I took the risk and went, and so far so good. I would like to hear from anyone who is or was a diver and whether they dive with an ICD.

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Diver,

My name's Bob. I don't have an ICD and I don't dive, either! :o)

But I know someone who did, until she had an sca and an ICD. Now, she's heartbroken
that she may have lost her greatest love - scuba diving. She's quite a person and I'm sure
she would be thrilled to have someone to talk with who knows about water AND matters of
the heart.
Her name is Marty. She posts here once in a while but writes frequently in her own blog.

http://heartstops.blogspot.com/


In fact, she posted a link to her blog, yesterday. Her user name is MartyR.

http://www.inspire.com/groups/sudden-cardiac-arrest-association/discussion/ sca-changes-everything/

She's the only scuba diver I know of...

Bob

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I am very interested in this because I was informed that I could not scuba dive. Both my husband and my sons learned to scuba because I had done it several times and loved it. Needless to say, how disappointed I was when I found out I could not do this with them on vacations.

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HI - I replied to you under my post on "SCA changes everything" - and I am the 'heartbroken' one Bob Turri mentions above. please let me know if you don't see the response and i'll repost it here.

I am SO excited to 'meet' you.!!!

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I am not a "diver" I guess except for the fact that I have been a few times but I am not certified yet. Of course, I had an SCA last October and heard that I can't go again which really busted my bubble of wanting to get certified and go deeper. I am thinking that the problem might be with the trainer and their fear of being held responsible if something happened. Have we heard of anyone having an episode of any where they were shocked down under? I definately still want to be able to go on vacations like before!

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I am certified but after my SCA in Feb 2009 was advised not to participate in any diving activities. The last few years before my SCA i think was only diving 1x/year so was not overly active in it but did enjoy it when I was able to. I would think it is very similar to dealing with altitude as I also do not have clearance to participate in any activities above 5k feet which has limited the skiing so far to east coast ice as opposed to the western powder...

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I have been scuba diving since 1986, worked in the Caribbean as an instructor/Divemaster for some time. Continued diving after being diagnosed as having SCA and having a ICD implanted in 1998 (am on my second one now)
I have never had the ICD kick in under water, but knowing how it feels when it does I pray not to be underwater when it happens.
If you thing you can handle the unit going off underwater than go for it. It's really a personal question and differs from person to person. The ICD can take the pressure w/o issues down to the recommended 130 feet. If you ask your cardiologist the answer will be no, not because of limitations of the ICD but probably because of liability. If your cardiologist is the realistic kind, like mine, than you should have a serious conversation with him before you start getting into it.
On a personal level - I don't dive local (cold water) anymore, not because of the ICD but mostly because I have been doing it for so long that I got tired of it. However next tropical vacation I will be underwater.

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Wolfintosh, thanks for responding, you can't believe how much security that gives me to know that there is someone else out there who has been diving with an ICD and SCA. While I have been nervous about the ICD going off when in the water, it has been an acceptable risk to me to try and keep that part of my life. I have been to 100 feet with my ICD before, but was more nervous about what is a safe depth since I could not get any real clarity. I will no nowhere near 130 feet. Thanks!

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There is another aspect of diving with an ICD in so far as should I inform my dive buddy? I learned most people don't know anything about SCA and if you inform them they are mostly horrified. If you inform an responsible dive operator they will likely not let you on board. Should you inform your dive buddy he may have a problem with that, or you ruin his dive cause he is mostly observing you. With that in mind my advise would be to keep it to yourself and only share it with a frequent dive buddy over a beer.

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I totally agree. My dive buddy is usually my girlfriend and she knows, but other than her, I don't share the information with anyone else for exactly the reasons you list. Thanks for the heads up though.

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Good advice Wolfintosh and thanks for asking the question for the rest of us vacationers pdvpdx! I hope to be able to go again :)

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I am a former PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer. Although I have not been diagnosed with SCA, I do have an ICD due to runs of V-tach. My unit is manufactured by Medtronic and is pressure rated up to 2.5ATM, which allowed me to dive to depths up to 50ft. I made several dives after I received the ICD without any problems. However, I did decide to discontinue diving after experiencing multiple cardioversions over the years by the ICD. I doubted my ability to retain the regulator within my mouth while undergoing a so-called "therapy." I also couldn't justify being responsible for students or another buddy with the risk of me getting cardioverted while underwater. After thousands of hours of bottom time and the personally rewarding experience of certifying many students, it was a very "tough pill to swallow." While my circumstances may be different than that of yourself, I made the choice for the peace of mind it gives my family. I miss diving terribly, but I still maintain the close connections I've made with the dive community.
-Jimmy

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Diver,

I would strongly recommend that you visit the website for the Divers Alert Network (DAN.org). They are a great group of folks with lots of experience answering questions like the one pose--diving with an ICD. There is a great deal of diving medicine info on their site you can review. I know because I am diver with more than 22 years of experience and a member of DAN. I am also a Diving Medical Technician and DAN instructor. My advice to you is to talk to one of the medics at DAN and let them refer you to a local 'Dive Doc' (a physician board certified in Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine) so you and your primary care physician can better evaluate the risks you are taking by continuing to dive with an ICD. Best of Luck!

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I went on my trip to South Africa and tried to dive. However, on my first dive (which I do have to say was in very cold water with a strong surge), I had to quit the dive after less than 30 minutes. Turns out that it was not the ICD that will limit my diving, it is the effects of the beta blockers I take keeping my heart rate aritifically low, and the effects of my cardio myopathy that will make that my last dive. I just couldn't get enough air, and became very out of breath. So, at the end of the day, although I am comfortabe with diving with the ICD, the other complications of SCA will end my diving career.

It was a very sad realization for me, but I realize if I keep trying I will drown, so I accept it, and am going to move on and find other hobbies I can do that SCA won't limit.

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Thanks so much for sharing. That encouraged me because I have been diving for a while and when I had my ICD implant in 2010. My doctor told me not to take up diving anymore but I can continue to paddle outrigger. I am so elated that there are folks like you that are still diving even with an ICD. God bless you all for sharing your testimonies and stories with all of us.

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Thank you for sharing your stories and testimonies with all of us. After I had my ICD implant in 2010 I was thinking of quitting diving completely, but now at least I know I have hope. My doctor told me not to take up divng but I can still race outrigger canoes. I belong to one of the local clubs here in Oceanside, California. I love diving for lobsters when the season opens in March. I am looking forward to start diving again. Thanks again for sharing.

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