Diving with a defibrillator

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Briana

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Hi! A little backstory....my husband is 28 and April of 2017 we ended up in the ER with what we thought was just bronchitis but turns out he was in Atrial fibrillation with an ejection fraction of 22. After a successful ablation he’s been incident free until June 2018. We went in for what he thought was another severe episode of Afib but turned out he was in sustained Vtach. They successfully ablated the Vtach & he ended up getting an internal Medtronic Defibrillator/pacemaker.

We’ve spoke with the cardiologist that DAN recommended and he suggested sitting out 6 months to make sure he doesn’t have another episode.

My question is does anyone have experience with diving with a defibrillator/pacemaker? He is otherwise healthy, works out daily, has no other health conditions. He’s pretty concerned he may not ever dive again but we want to make sure it’s safe for him!

Thanks in advance for the info!
 

rsingler

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Electrically, there's no problem with diving with an internal defibrillator.

Safety-wise, though, you got good advice. It's worth knowing whether or how often he has another event that triggers the small internal shock. Being underwater the first time that happens is probably not where you want to be, just because of the distraction. And if it happens frequently, the underlying medical condition may not be compatible with further diving. On the other hand, if the device does what it's designed to do, then that's arguably safer than diving before he had it implanted.

Finally, an ejection fraction of 22% raises some questions about maintaining the physical effort required for some dives. But if your DAN-recommended cardiologist didn't raise a red flag, perhaps it's now improving. You'll get better advice from that physician than from any of us here with our incomplete information.

Cheers,
Diving Doc

Perhaps @Duke Dive Medicine might care to weigh in.

MOD: perhaps this thread might get moved to the Diving Medicine forum?
 

Duke Dive Medicine

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Hi Briana,

I don't have much to add to what @rsingler said. In general the concerns are:

1. The underlying condition. Your husband has experienced a potentially lethal dysrhythmia and has had two ablations. There's no guarantee that it won't happen again, and the added strain on the heart that comes with immersion and diving could theoretically put him at higher risk of another event.

2. The ICD isn't 100% effective in converting shockable rhythms.

3. I've heard from patients that being shocked by an ICD feels like being kicked in the chest by a mule. It may be more than simply distracting if it happens under water.

All that said, as @rsingler stated above, if you talked with a DAN-recommended cardiologist who had access to your husband's medical information, you probably got better advice than you're going to get online.

Best regards,
DDM
 

DocVikingo

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Hi Briana,

One issue that has yet to raised is the fact that the implantable defibrillators of which I am aware contain an air space. Therefore, the matter of the increased ambient pressure inherent in SCUBA would need to be considered.

Medtronic would be the folks to contact regarding this. Try Medtronic Patient Services.

Sincerely,

DocVikingo

This is educational only and does not constitute or imply a doctor-patient relationship. It is not medical advice to you or any other individual and should not be construed as such.
 

Duke Dive Medicine

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WB Doc!
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/perdix-ai/

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