Can exercise before diving prevent decompression sickness?

March 10, 2004

Nowadays, scuba diving involves millions of people worldwide. Decompression sickness following diving is initiated by the formation of gas bubbles in tissue and blood.

The most common decompression related problem in sports divers is injury of the central nervous system, the risk of which is higher with increasing number of bubbles.

Preventive measures to reduce the risk of decompression sickness include breathing oxygen and reducing decompression speed.

Following recent findings on rats, our research group from the University of Split School of Medicine, and colleagues from Norway published in Journal of Physiology a simple non-pharmacological procedure for decreasing bubble formation.

In healthy divers we showed that a single bout of strenuous exercise 24 hours before a simulated dive significantly reduced the number of bubbles in the pulmonary artery compared to dives without preceding exercise.

This finding may form the basis for a novel approach for preventing serious decompression sickness.
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Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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