Prevention of bubble formation is a central goal in standard decompression procedures. According to research published in the FASEB Journal, nitric oxide reduces bubble formation following decompression after dives of different duration and to different depths.

In their experiments, the researchers from the University of Split and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology gave 16 experienced divers 0.4 mg of Nitroglycerine by oral spray 30 minutes before a dive. They found this significantly reduced bubble formation.

Nitroglycerine, best known as an explosive, is converted to nitric oxide in the body. One of the effects of Nitric oxide is to widen the blood vessels.

The divers were split into two groups. One group dived to 30 m in seawater for 30 minutes and exercised during the dive. The other group performed simulated dives to 18 m for 80 minutes in a hyperbaric chamber and remained sedentary. Each group performed two dives, the first acting as a control with no nitroglycerine administered. The open-water dive resulted in significantly more bubbles than the dry dive, but both sets of divers benefitted from the nitric oxide donor.

Journal Reference: The FASEB Journal. 2006;20:A1249.

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