Patient Education Blog

Scuba Diving: Can I Dive While Being on a Blood Thinner?

Stephan Moll, MD writes… In general: “Yes”.  Many people who take blood thinners are able to safely dive.  However, there are a few things to consider for the individual on blood thinners who wants to go scuba diving:

  • 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 blood thinners.  The diver on blood thinners should be particularly cognizant of the 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 test in the therapeutic range.

The Divers Alert Network (DAN) organization (homepage here)  has thoughtful discussions of the topic on its website (link here)  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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