May 5
FitOldDog , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

How I Advise People With Ascending Aortic Aneurysms, While I'm Just An AAA Guy.

Hi folks,

My life was changed, dramatically, in 2010, at age 67. I self-diagnosed an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), as a direct result of odd things happening in the Lake Placid Ironman race. I went, from Ironman-distance triathlete, scientist, to aortic cripple - in my mind. Seemingly over night. I found great surgeons, had a Cook Zenith stent inserted, and returned to Ironman training. I was the first person in the world, that I know of, that completed a full Ironman with an AAA stent graft.

However, I couldn't find anyone to talk to about my situation, so I started blogging; see AthleteWithStent.Com.
This led, eventually, to the people who made my stent, creating a short video about my life(

What has this to do with heart disease?

As I started blogging, I found that 
people with ascending aortic aneurysms, often with aortic valve involvement, and having survived open heart repair, would write to me for advice. They wanted to know how to return to safe exercise, even wishing to return to sports.

The real trick, once you survive the surgery, is to get your life back on track. In spite of great surgeons at UNC and Cleveland, I still had to work most of this out for myself.

I provide encouragement and guidance, whilst promoting the balance needed to incorporate the input of medical professionals, family, friends, and one's own need to exercise within the constraints of your personal level of 'risk averseness.' An interesting equation.

This old post of mine might interest anyone wanting to decide how, or whether, to return to sports:

Sending everyone good vibes. Remember to thank your surgeons, stay in contact with them, and work out how to take charge of your life again.

Here is what my last surgeon, at the Cleveland Clinic had to say about this:

Wishing everyone well,

Kevin aka FitOldDog

PS there are some really inspiring people out there, such as Benjamin Carey, who finished the NYC Marathon, with his surgeon, one year after open heart surgery for an ascending aortic aneurysm. All this stuff is linked on my blog, in addition to links to supportive Facebook groups.
  • bebrew12
    You are very vague on how you self diagoned your triple A.with insurance being the way it is--one cannot just go to the doctors and say you want to be screened for aortic aneurysm. And you were very fortunate to be treated at one of the best medical facilities in the country, if not the world. So glad you are well!
    this is very good thank you for posting ,yes think it will help lots people ,me included.
  • AHA Ambassador Mark
    AHA Ambassador Mark,
    Kevin, What an awesome story and commentary. I am no triathlete but I have been a committed jogger/runner and exercise enthusiast for all of my adult life. I was diagnosed with aortic valve disease at Cooper Clinic in Dallas, TX in 1993 at the age of 41. My disease slowly progressed until I needed valve replacement surgery at the age of 60. I chose to have my surgery at Cleveland Clinic and my surgeon, Dr. Eric Roselli, implanted a bovine tissue bio-prosthetic valve on November 7, 2012. I now celebrate two birthdays each year - my original one and my "re-birth" day on November 7th. I too exercise 6-7 days each week with jogging/cycling on 4 days and strength training 2-3 days. Like you, I feel so very blessed to have this second chance at an active, normal life and I plan to do everything I possibly can not to squander this amazing opportunity. Reach out if you wish and perhaps we can discuss the Cleveland Clinic Sports Cardiology Center that is directed by Dr. Dermot Phelan. You may be familiar with the program since you had your second stent procedure performed at CC. I extend my very best to you in all the stages and chapters of your life and living. MarkR
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