In a recent divers’ health survey that DAN conducted, 25 participants, or one in 200, reported having an implanted pacemaker device. The median age of divers with implanted devices was 64 (39 to 90) years and 95% were male. We did not anticipate this and the survey did not ask about reasons for pacemaker implants, but we have learned something about their health status.
- About 64% active divers with pacemakers were either overweight or obese.
- 22 reported that they regularly participate in vigorous exercise such as running, biking, swimming, weightlifting, etc.
- Half were diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia, 9 with hypertension and 4 with diabetes.
- Few still indulge in some high risk habits such as heavy drinking and tobacco smoking.
- When asked to describe their general health, one participant answered it was excellent, 12 very good, 10 good, and one diver said that his health was fair or poor.
Five of the respondents with implanted pacemakers had basic certifications, 16 had advanced and four held instructor-level diving certifications. In terms of diving habits, the respondents with implanted pacemakers reported they:
- Perform about 30 dives per year (median)
- Have been active divers for an average of 20 years
- Have logged a median of 460 total lifetime dives per diver.
Divers with pacemakers don’t seem to be less active than other divers, but we did not explore the circumstances and severity of their dives. We did not ask about specific symptoms or manifestations related to underlying conditions for which they received the pacemaker nor about possible unwanted side effects of pacemakers.
Volunteers with Pacemakers Needed
This is why DAN designed a new study to learn about specific issues experienced by divers with pacemakers choosing to dive with or without medical clearance. DAN is looking for volunteers to participate in the “Diving Experience of Divers with Implanted Cardiac Devices” study, which consists of an online survey that takes approximately 10 minutes to complete, in addition to a possible follow-up interview if clarification is needed. If you would like to participate in this investigative study, ongoing through August* 2013, please contact DAN Research (919-684-2948 or firstname.lastname@example.org). Participants will not be compensated for participation.
Post written by: Petar Denoble, MD, D.Sc.
*NOTE: This study has been extended through November 2013.