Vascular Disease Foundation - Fighting Vascular Disease... Improving Vascular Health.
VDF Infomation Library

Disease Information : AAA : FAQ's


Q. Do you consider a 7 cm x 12.6 cm AAA large?  With that size, should a person curtail activities such as lifting? Does this require immediate surgery or is surgery in two weeks time okay?

A. A 7 cm AAA is considered very large and urgent, requiring IMMEDIATE evaluation  for surgical or interventional repair.  I assume by your e-mail that you have a surgery planned, and thus, are under the care of a vascular specialist.  I would suggest you stay in contact with that specialist's office and ask questions regarding lifting or other activities as they would have a better capability of assessing your specific situation.

Q. I am a 65-year old woman. I consistently feel a heart beat in and around my belly button. When I tell doctors this, they look at me like I’m crazy and say they don’t know why I would feel a heartbeat in my navel. It keeps me awake at night. Can you please tell me if this is something that I would need to see a vascular doctor for? If so, what could it possibly be?

A. We do not think you are crazy. In fact, we recommend you see your doctor soon and have them check for a possible Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA). Others have described a similar sensation and it turned out to be an AAA. Keep in mind a few things: It can be very serious or fatal if it bursts, so you need to make sure you do not have one. Typically, no intervention is done until an AAA has a diameter of 5 centimeters or so. AAA is common in males, which is why your doctors may not have thought about it. However, it does occur in females, and especially if you have a family history. The test to determine if you have an AAA is an ultrasound, which can be done by a vascular lab or in some doctor's offices.

Q. Do doctors routinely perform an ultrasound scan of the abdominal area to check for AAA? Otherwise, how would you know if you have one, if you don't have any symptoms?

A. If someone is at high risk for AAA, it should be checked by ultrasound. The other way to possibly identify a large AAA is by a physical exam. However, this is not highly accurate. Also, it is not as useful in obese persons. Screening is recommended for all men 60-85 with cardiovascular risk factors and any over 50 with a family history of AAA.

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