Aortic dissection & aortic aneurysm information support group

Aortic dissection, aortic aneurysm - The aorta - Life after an aortic dissection

Hello all! I'm new here. I like to be physically active and I have what I think is a stressful job. I am 58, have a wonderful, caring wife and 3 magnificent daughters, ages 16, 14 and 11.

In April, after a episode of angina, an aortic aneurysm was discovered - 4.5cm, ascending, not involving the aortic root and no blockage.  I was prescribed a beta blocker (25mg Metoprolol). A follow up MRI is scheduled for November.

I have always been relatively fit and slim. My doctors have given me no physical restrictions, other than power lifting. Makes sense.

I was extremely cautious at first, walking on egg shells. Also, the Metoprolol made me tired. However, I have since gotten back to my pre-AA self - e.g., hiking, rowing, gardening and household chores - some chores heavier than others. And, the stressful job continues. So far, I have had no angina and no symptoms.

I realize now, I may be over doing it with this time bomb in my chest. The reality of my situation has finally dawned on me after 5 months. I'm beginning to freak out and think a dissection could occur anywhere, at any time - imagining the worst!

Should I be moderating my activity and reducing stress? To complicate matters, I'm very close to landing a new job position. No less stressful.

Please respond in any way you like on living with an AA. I'm also open to face time with Skype, if anyone is available and willing. I have also read many of your wonderful posts. You (we) are a dynamic group!

Thank you!


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That ticking time bomb feeling...hate it.  The good news is that we can live relatively normal lives(what is normal really) Anyway my best advice is listen to your doctors restrictions, and also and more importantly listen to your body. Keep in mind the fact that they are monitoring the aneurysm is a good thing and they will place restrictions upon you according to it's growth or lack of growth. They know it's there and to quote G.I. Joe "Knowing is half the battle"  What is life if we don't live it, so live it! Again just listen to the docs and your body! Take care and never ever stop living.



Hi. I can't help you here as I didn't know about my aneurysm. I just felt ill in a meeting then woke up in hospital. But I think kimberlee has the right idea that you need to listen to your body and understand your limits. It's not a weakness to realise that you are doing to much,its smart. You will be making your life longer and be ther for your family.

Living life to the fullest is what it's all about. Thank you!

It is Richard. I don't know if you read my blog but I got over my dissection and a year later had a stroke! Then on 1st August this year I had a seizure. You never know what is round the corner.

For sure, anything can happen to us at any time. Makes me appreciate how fortunate I am and to live in the moment. Thank you Patrick and I certainly hope you are doing well. 

Hi Richard,

I wouldn't worry too much about the cardiovascular exercise - the more the better - but don't do anything remotely weight intensive. You are being monitored by your doctors, but I would recommend getting a pulse monitoring watch (Polar are generally regarded as the best) and if possible something you can measure your blood pressure easily with during a row. You should try and limit your exercise to a maximum pulse of around 100 (from what I can remember it is 160 minus your age) and keep your blood pressure below 140/90. Bear in mind these figures/formulas were for me and I was 30 when I had a dissection - so I don't know if it applies to aneurysms, or if the thinking has changed in the past 5 years. Maybe a quick chat with your doctor would clarify things.

Regarding stress - ask for a 24 hour monitor for your blood pressure on a particularly charged day at work. Then let your doctor tell you whether you are doing too much by having him interpret the results. I also have a relatively stressful job and it does take it out of me, but my doctor is happy after seeing the results throughout the whole 24 hour period. From what I have been told by my doctors here in Germany it is more important that your sleeping blood pressure is low, rather than your daily peaks and troughs...

Hope that this helps nonetheless! Oh, and welcome to the group!

take care,


oh, just been scooting around amazon and if you're a techie then you could get dongles and sensors to connect to an iphone or ipod to monitor pulse, and even blood pressure... i'm not a fan of apple phones, but the ipod dongles have peaked my interest :) - my cross trainer does it all for me though so i just use the ipod to listen to music when i cross train.


I feel very much welcomed to the group! Thank you for your experience and advice. This is all a great reference point for a chat with my doctors. Wondering why they hadn't advised me on any of this.

My old iPod just quit and my daughters all have iPhones. I'm stuck with a company BlackBerry. :)

How do people know so much about their dissections?

Mine happened in March, I was in the hospital for 3 weeks and was told I did not need an operation yet. Went back on July 1st and was told my dissection was almost closed on its own, so I must have a guardian angel. But whatever I was doing to carry on doing it.

The problem is, I wasn't doing anything, just being looked after my son and his partner, falling asleep a lot and taking the tablets, looking after the grandchildren a few times, and that was it for two months.

Now I am back home and hardly dare do anything. I find even walking up slopes increasingly difficult - and the village I live in is all hills.

How often do you all see your doctors or GPs?

My GP said he'd see me after the operation, which I am not going to have yet, as my aneurysm, which was the biproduct of the dissection is now only 2cm. so I do not need to see the doctor at the hospital for a year.

I saw my cardiologist every 6m and now see him once a year.  But I'm pretty sure since I've had growth on this last ECHO, when they get my CT results I'm either having surgery again or back to 6m.  If you doctor does not want to see you for a yr that is a good thing. It means it is either growing very slowly or not at all and it sounds like yours has improved. As for physical activity, stay within your docs guidelines and listen to your body, it will let you know what your capable of doing.  So how do I know so much, I really don't to be honest. What I do know is because my dissection occurred almost 8yrs ago, so overtime I've asked many questions of my doctors. Take care and take it easy and most of all live your life!



The problem is that I haven't been given any guidelines by my doctor or GP about physical activity.

My sister works for a private healthcare company and has spoken to a doctor there about me. He told me to make sure I did not go shopping straight away, as that's when people can end up back in hospital, lifting heavy bags. Do not lift anything over 5kg., he said. That means not even 6 bottles of wine at a time!

What were you like in your first year, Kimberlee?

I've had doctors tell me that it's good to be able to choose when to have an operation, and others saying at least you will not be paralysed if you do not have the operation. I am confused.

the 5kg restriction is pretty much life long, as they will not be able to replace everything when they operate. Also, I would seriously question the "paralysed" statement as the op will improve your overall quality of life, and only if the surgeons mess up will it result in anything close to paralysis.
The first year is pretty much 3 months of feeling awful whilst recovering from the anaesthetic. 3 months of finding out your new limitations, then 6 months of pleasant and sometimes horrible surprises.
The journey is well worth it though. No time bomb any more, and a relatively "normal" life and life expectancy...
Take care,



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