Education Blog for Healthcare Professionals

Scuba Diving While on an Anticoagulant

Stephan Moll, MD writes… Can patients on anticoagulants safely scuba dive?  In general: “Yes”.  Many people who take anticoagulants are able to safely dive.  However, there are a few things to consider:

  • The most important question is whether the condition that requires the use of a blood thinner prohibits diving. In many cases, the illness is over, or chronic but well adjusted, and does not interfere with safe recreational diving.  Safe diving on blood thinners depends on the absence of illness that would limit diving” [modified after reference 1].
  • The same principles for safe diving that apply to everybody (measures to avoid barotrauma, etc.) apply to the diver who takes an anticoagulant.  The diver on an anticoagulant should be particularly cognizant of safe-diving practices.
  • Diving in remote areas may not be advisable as medical care, if bleeding occurs for whatever reason (non-diving associated trauma or diving-associated bleeding) can be difficult to come by.
  • Warfarin should be well controlled when diving, i.e. INR in the therapeutic range.

The Divers Alert Network (DAN) organization (homepage here)  has thoughtful discussions of the topic (link here) on its website   and is a good contact for any diver with specific questions.  It is a non-for-profit organization of recreational scuba divers with the mission to promote dive safety and to help divers in need of medical emergency assistance.

References

  1. DAN; quote from Dr. Alfred Bove, a dive-medicine specialist – last 2 paragraphs at  http://www.diversalertnetwork.org/health/heart/antiplatelets-anticoagulants

Last Updated:  July 15th, 2015

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