Can I scuba dive if I have high blood pressure?

Someone scuba diving underwater with tropical fish

I would like to take up scuba diving but I have high blood pressure. Is this something that I can do?

Dr Mike Knapton says:

Scuba diving can be a great way to keep fit and provide a workout for your heart.

However, diving can have significant effects on the body, including increasing blood pressure, which could pose a risk when diving, or a risk to your health in general.

There are a number of medical conditions that could put you at risk when diving. So if you have a health condition, it’s a good idea to get checked out by your doctor before you go diving.

There are a number of medical conditions that could put you at risk when diving

Mike Knapton
Associate medical director

The British Sub-aqua Club is the governing body for sub-aqua diving and snorkelling in the UK. It has a useful website with all the information you will need to take up scuba diving. This includes a self-declaration form which is a short questionnaire asking you about any significant medical conditions. If you have any of these conditions you will need a medical reference and potentially a medical examination. 

These include diseases of the heart and circulation including high blood pressure, angina, chest pains and palpitations, diabetes and stroke.

You would also be recommended to have a medical if you are on any medication (other than the oral contraceptive pill).

Subject to a satisfactory medical – which can be undertaken by your GP, but will incur a private fee – you should be able to dive safely.

 

Mike KnaptonMeet the expert

Dr Mike Knapton is Associate Medical Director (Prevention and Care) at the BHF, overseeing the strategic role in helping patients and the public reduce their risk of heart disease. He remains a GP and works one day a week at a practice in Cambridge.

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