Scuba diving knows no age

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Posted by on August 12, 2006 at 21:35:43:

Don't let age sink your love for diving.

Undersea diving is safe for older divers, says a Duke University Medical Centre study in the February issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology.

The study says that as long as older divers stay healthy, the normal age-related decline in pulmonary function isn't significant enough to prevent them from continuing their hobby.

Use of hyperbaric chambers

The Duke researchers used hyperbaric chambers to simulate dives to a depth of 18 metres. The study included 20 volunteers, with half ranging in age from 19 to 39 and the rest ranging in age from 58 to 74. They all had healthy hearts and lungs.

The researchers took measurements of gas levels in the bloodstream of the divers at rest and during exertion while they were in the hyperbaric chambers.

Carbon dioxide retention

Specifically, the researchers examined the effect of age on the body's ability to balance oxygen and carbon monoxide levels under pressures that would be experienced during normal dives. They found clinically insignificant differences in the levels of retained carbon dioxide when they compared the older and younger volunteers.

Carbon dioxide retention is a major safety issue for divers. It can cause mental confusion, seizures and, in extreme cases, loss of consciousness. (HealthScout News)

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