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Hi everyone, my wife turned me onto this forum which she tells me has been excellent with members providing support to each other, whether it's answering medical questions, advice on care and maintenance, or simply being there for each other.
I will keep my history as brief as possible: I was diagnosed with AAA approx 4 years ago, with Thoracic at 4.5cm. I went for a 2nd and 3rd opinion, 3rd was done 2 years ago at a hospital I work at, was told they couldn't find it. So I was happy and thought I was in the clear.
I studied TaeKwonDo in my teens and 20's, got into bodybuilding/powerlifting in my 20's and early 30's. Over the years I got lazy, put on weight, have been fighting to get it off and keep it off. Had some odd chest "twinges" (felt more like light tickles, occassional feeling of someone pinching your skin), and 3 incidents where I was gasping for air and panicking (BACKGROUND: despite gaining weight, I have been able to and still manage to get 30-45 minutes of brisk walking in (3.2 to 3.7), stationary bike 20 minutes @85-105 rpm, lap swimming (taking it easy and slow). These 3 episodes included excessive dancing at my friends' wedding, being chased by a queen hornet and running from it and swinging a walking stick at it, and recently climbing 8 flights of stairs at work. This was NOT a simple "whew I'm tired and a little out of breath", these were I cannot breathe fast enough and feel like a bear is squeezing my ribs, I can't get air fast enough and panic is setting in.
So I decided to go back to cardiologist #2, who has done just about a full workup minus a CT scan, which is most likely coming soon. He and the echocardiagram tech confirmed I have a 4.5cm AAA, which THANK GOD hasn't grown since first discovered 4 years ago.
I was told STOP weight lifting, no smoking (I had an occasional (1 every 3-6 months) cigar), and to focus on losing weight. No moving heavy furniture, no snow shoveling (which I did a little this last winter). So I have stopped all these cold turkey. But I have so many questions......please bare with me, answer whatever you like, add any comments, etc
1. Why did this have to happen to me (I'm sure we have all asked this)
2. As a bodybuilder/powerlifter, why did this happen to me? Does this affect other lifters as well and they don't know it? Why are some susceptible and not others?
3. Did my being overweight cause this?
4. How quick or slow will this enlarge?
5. What can I do to prevent/slow growth as much as possible?
6. Okay to take viagra (small dose) if I need to?
7. Okay to scuba dive?
8. Will taking a blood thinner (like Coumeden) or a beta blocker (like Norvasc) help?
9. Does my BP really need to be down to 105 to 110 systolic? My BP has always been good but have not hit those numbers
10. How do I know if I have bicuspid aortic valve issue? Cardiologist question?
11. Running out of breath in those 3 episodes: I panicked and thought I may be having a heart attack. Was it? Do I have lung issues as well? (going to make appointment to see a pulmonologist)
12. Been focusing on cardio, 1/2 hour walks each day. Even small things I feel somewhat out of breath. Because of the AAA? Because I'm 48? Because I'm out of shape?
13. I sometimes get nervous about sneezing, coughing or even pushing too much when going to the bathroom. Is this is a legit concern or am I being paranoid?
14. When I sneeze or cough I sometimes feel a slight "pain" or disomfort in my chest. Is this phantom pain caused by my concerns? Is it something related to the AAA? Lung issue?
15. If this is hereditary (father was discovered to have a abdominal aortic aneurysym in mid 70's, mother has always had a slight heart murmur), will this affect my children?
16. Being off my bodybuilding diet for years, it's tough but I'm doing my best to eat clean but sometimes fall off the wagon. I'm trying to eat oatmeal every morning, Subway chicken or roast beef sandwich for lunch, wife cooks protein, veggie and carb (potato, pasta, rice) for dinner, snack on fuji apple and clementine for snack, drink 1/2 to 3/4 gallon of water daily. If and when I do cheat, how bad will this affect my condition? Cheat = pizza, chinese food, snacks (chips, cookies, pretzels, ice cream), occassional alcohol drinks (vodka with OJ, rum and coke, amaretto and OJ). NOTE I do not binge on these items, just sometimes nibble on this stuff, sometimes a little more than a nibble
17. Trying to learn to live with this, take it seriously but not let it ruin my life. Trying to keep a positive outlook, stay funny and outgoing, sometimes I get down and upset, sometimes angry and say WHAT THE (insert choice words here)....tough but I'm fighting...WE (wife and I) are fighting and facing this head on. One day at a time......
Sorry for the massive long post, just needed to get these feelings and questions off my chest. I'm a great listener BTW (ask my wife) and will be more than happy to share stories and add any input I can. Thank you all for your support!!!!
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