Exercise-induced myofibrillar disruption with sarcolemmal integrity prior to simulated diving has no effect on vascular bubble formation in rats
PURPOSE Decompression sickness is initiated by the formation of gas bubbles in tissue and blood if the divers return to surface pressure too fast. The effect of exercise before, during, and after dive on bubble formation is still controversial. We have reported recently that strenuous aerobic exercise 24 h before simulated dive ameliorates venous bubble formation. The objective of this field study was to evaluate whether mild, continuous exercise during decompression has a similar impact. METHODS Ten healthy, military male divers performed an open-sea field dive to 30 m of sea water breathing air, remaining at pressure for 30 min. During the bottom and decompression the subjects performed fin underwater swimming at about 30% of maximal oxygen uptake. Each diver underwent two randomly assigned dives, one with and one without exercise during the 3-min decompression period. Monitoring of venous gas emboli was performed in the right heart with ultrasonic scanner every 20 min for 60 min after reaching surface pressure in supine rest and during forced two-cough procedure. RESULTS The study demonstrates that a mild, continuous exercise during decompression significantly reduced the average number of bubbles in the pulmonary artery from 0.9 +/- 0.8 to 0.3 +/- 0.5 bubbles per square centimeter in supine rest, as well as during two-cough procedure, which decreased from 4.6 +/- 4.5 to 0.9 +/- 0.9 bubbles per square centimeter. No symptoms of decompression sickness were observed in any subject. CONCLUSION These results, obtained in the field conditions, indicate that a mild, underwater swimming during a 3-min decompression period reduces postdive gas bubbles formation.