The Divers Alert Network announced it has awarded the 2021 DAN/Alfred Bove Research Grant for Cardiac Health in Scuba Diving to Peter Buzzacott of Curtin University in Western Australia.
Buzzacott, formerly the director of injury monitoring and prevention at DAN, recently co-authored a paper with DAN researchers describing cardiac function in recreational divers.
While the study contributed to knowledge of cardiac function in healthy divers, the participants had been diving in the sea in water ranging in temperature from “bath warm” to “ice cold” and with variable depths and diver workloads. Buzzacott’s proposal is to build a swimming pool inside the new AU$4.6 million (~US$3.3 million/~€2.9 million) hyperbaric chamber at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth and to tightly control depth, water temperature and workload.
One hundred fifty recreational scuba divers will cycle gently on underwater ergometers while being monitored via electrocardiography. The project will form the basis for a fully-funded Ph.D. program, including tuition fees and a living allowance.
The grant was established in memory of Alfred Bove, a cardiologist and dive medicine specialist who contributed significantly to the field of dive medicine for more than four decades.
According to DAN president and CEO Bill Ziefle:
“Cardiac health and fitness are such important factors in recreational divers’ safety that DAN is enthusiastic about supporting this project. This is exactly the type of research that is needed to improve our understanding of how the human heart responds to the combination of immersion, pressure, and exercise while diving.”
Expanding the scope of Buzzacott’s work further, funding for a second Ph.D. student’s tuition and living allowance has been secured from the Australian federal government. This person will record bubbles in divers, including the 150 volunteer recreational divers undergoing heart monitoring. The Curtin School of Nursing will cover a portion of Buzzacott’s salary during the five-year project, and including the cost of the 150 hyperbaric compressions the total value of the project is approximately US$1 million (~€879,400).