The average age of divers who die each year in dive fatalities tracked by DAN is gradually increasing. It is now approximately 42 years of age. Divers are getting older, and older people are getting involved in diving.
Of the 78 dive fatalities in the DAN 2001 Report on Decompression Illness, Diving Fatalities and Project Dive Exploration, based on 1999 fatalities, 7.7 percent of them were caused directly by heart disease. At the same time, heart disease was the direct cause of death for 26 percent of the fatalities involving divers over the age of 35. In addition, 25 percent of divers involved in diving fatalities were also reported to be taking heart medications.
Heart disease is a common problem. To ignore that it affects divers as much as it affects the general population does divers a disservice. When you consider that diving is often done from remote locations - on beaches or off dive boats that are far removed from emergency medical help, it is important to prepare for every emergency.