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October 2023    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 49, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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PFO a Higher Danger to Divers Than Thought

from the October, 2023 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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A PFO (a patent foramen ovale) is a common heart defect. It's a small opening between the left and right atrium of the heart that usually closes after birth. If it stays open, arterial blood can flow between the chambers, avoiding the lungs and causing nitrogen-loaded blood to recirculate more easily. Therefore, nitrogen absorbed during a dive is less easily off-loaded on ascent.

Previous studies have indicated that PFO prevalence is higher among divers who experienced DCI than those who did not, Hyun-Jong Lee, MD, a professor at Sejong University in South Korea, wrote in the current Annals of Internal Medicine. The researchers studied 100 experienced divers who completed more than 50 dives annually, dividing them into two groups. During a follow-up of 28.7 months, 12 divers in the PFO group had PFO-related DCI events. The incidence of DCI was 12.8%, which is higher than reported in previous literature....


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