Adverse events in competitive breath-hold diving

Undersea Hyperb Med. Jan-Feb 2006;33(1):55-62.


Medical observations are reported from an eight-day world championship breath-hold diving competition involving 57 participants. The deepest dive was to 75 metres, and the longest breath-hold time exceeded 9 minutes. There were 35 diving-related adverse events witnessed or reported, including transient loss of motor control due to hypoxia, syncope during ascent, hemoptysis, and pulmonary edema. All events occurred in healthy individuals, and resolved without apparent sequelae. There was no relationship between symptoms and depth. The medical implications of these adverse events are discussed. Despite the inherent risks of the sport, established organizational procedures for competitive breath-hold diving maintain a high degree of safety.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diving / adverse effects*
  • Diving / physiology
  • Female
  • Hemoptysis / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Edema / etiology
  • Respiration*
  • Syncope / etiology
  • Time Factors
  • Unconsciousness / etiology