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Last Updated: Monday, 3 May, 2004, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK
Diver discharged from hospital
Some divers have died after suffering the bends
A 26-year-old diver has been discharged safely from hospital after suffering from the bends after she was rescued off the north Wales coast.

The woman - who has not been named - was brought ashore near Porthdinllaen on the Llŷn Peninsula, Gwynedd.

Although she was conscious, she was showing signs of decompression sickness - a condition which can be caused by returning to the surface too quickly, and can be fatal.

A Sea King helicopter from RAF Valley on Anglesey was scrambled and the woman was flown more than 70 miles to a decompression chamber at Murrayfield Hospital at Thingwall, Wirral.

Earlier this year, it emerged that research was being carried out into developing a pill to prevent the bends.

New Scientist magazine reported the Norwegian researchers were confident the drug would reduce the number of harmful bubbles that form in the blood.

However, sub-aqua experts warned the side-effects of any drug would have to be carefully examined.

The research team at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim previously carried out tests on rats.

Tests showed that intense exercise around 20 hours before a simulated dive in a pressure chamber significantly reduced nitrogen bubble formation.

Nitrogen dissolves in the blood during dives, but comes out of solution if divers return to normal pressure too rapidly and this can cause the bends.

It is thought exercise works by eliminating microbubbles, or nuclei, that lead to the formation of larger bubbles in the blood.

Mike Clack, technical adviser at the British Sub-Aqua Club, said anything that added to the methods available to deal with decompression sickness was to be welcomed.

But he added: "The diver should ensure that any drug used while diving would have no effect on them while breathing under pressure."

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