March 2013 #2

MEDICAL CONDITIONS THAT MAY PREVENT YOU FROM SAILING (Part 1)

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The Coast Guard has enumerated over 200 medical conditions that may preclude the mariner from sailing. At the very least, these conditions are "subject to further review" by the Coast Guard. Many amongst these conditions are heart related and the list below is by no means exhaustive:

  • History of myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • History of valve replacement or valvular disease
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Congenital heart disease accompanied by cardiac enlargement
  • Pericarditis, endocarditis or myocarditis
  • Aortic and mitral insufficiency
  • History of atrial fibrillation within past 5 years
  • History of angina pectoris
  • Implanted pacemaker

The list is quite long and may be reviewed in the extensive NVIC 04-08 issued by the Coast Guard on September 15, 2008. Cardiology consultation with testing is the normal requirement to obtain a waiver from the Coast Guard to return to duty. The list pertaining to cancer related disease and treatment is also quite extensive. Every mariner should obtain a copy of this important NVIC.

QUESTION FROM THE BRIDGE

I went in for a pre-sign on physical and was rejected for work because my blood pressure was too high. I showed the doctor my medications for this but he told me I would have to see my primary doctor to get a clearance. What gives?

Bruce, San Pedro

Bruce, depending on the blood pressure readings the pre-sign on doctor was probably correct. NVIC 04-08 defines "hypertension" as anything over 160/100 (systolic/diastolic). If your numbers exceeded these you will likely require an ECG, blood tests, and other testing. However, the pre-sign on doctor should be asked to repeat his test 24 hours later to see if your high readings were simply an anomaly or a true measure of your blood pressure.

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