gms | German Medical Science

27. Wissenschaftlicher Kongress der Deutschen Hochdruckliga

Deutsche Liga zur Bekämpfung des hohen Blutdrucks – Deutsche Hypertonie Gesellschaft e. V.

26. bis 29.11.2003, Bonn

Blood Pressure in Sportsdivers under Water higher than on Land

Blutdruck bei Sporttauchern im Wasser höher als an Land

Meeting Abstract (Hypertonie 2003)

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  • F. Witten - Universität Göttingen (Bad Arolsen, Wolfsburg, Göttingen, D)
  • presenting/speaker M. Almeling - Universität Göttingen (Bad Arolsen, Wolfsburg, Göttingen, D)
  • A. Niklas - Universität Göttingen (Bad Arolsen, Wolfsburg, Göttingen, D)

Hypertonie 2003. 27. Wissenschaftlicher Kongress der Deutschen Hochdruckliga. Bonn, 26.-29.11.2003. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2004. Doc03hochP46

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: November 11, 2004

© 2004 Witten et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.




A lot of attempts have been made to measure physical stress of immersed men and to compare it with non-immersed. Because of an increasing number of sportsdivers in Germany (about 1.5 million), fitness to dive testing becomes more and more important. Besides others bicycle stress tests are used to show physical fitness. To our knowledge none of the existing studies was able to measure blood pressure continuously in a stress test under water and compare it to data found in standard bicycle tests on land.

Materials and Methods

We adapted a standard ergometer for underwater use (whole body immersion) and stressed the tested person (n=31) with defined workload above and under water. We also developed special valves to measure oxygen uptake, blood pressure and heart rate during exercise under water.

The tested person was asked to spin against the resistance of the ergometer on land (dry) and in a second attempt in water (wet). The capacity was stepwise increased by 30 Watts every 3 minutes, until the individual reached the maximum tolerable workload.


The parameters found during standardised spiro-ergometry test on land (dry) with the above-described test in a depth of 117 kPa (1.7 meters) (wet) were compared in the test group. Systolic blood pressure "wet" compared to "dry" [Fig. 1] at the same O2-uptake level was significantly higher at rest (D25mmHg) as well as under maximum stress (D45mmHg). Comparing gross-capacity (adjusted Watt at the ergometer, plus additionally 32 Watt water resistance of ergometer) "wet" to "dry" by using the systolic blood pressure, we found systolic blood pressure highly significant elevated "wet" to "dry". Additionally the heart rate was significantly higher in "wet" compared to "dry" tests.


Comparable workload lead to significant higher blood pressure and heart rate levels in underwater strain compared to identical activity on land. Person with risk factors related to high blood pressure should be selected "not fit for diving".


The study was proved by the ethic committee of Göttingen University. All technical equipment was pre-testing checked by TÜV Hanover.