Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Stent Graft Athlete

Kevin One of the things about working at Angioplasty.Org that warms my heart (pun intended) is connecting with patients around the world. Our Patient Forum gets posts from the U.S., U.K., Pakistan, Poland, India, Iran, China, Chile and…North Carolina. That’s where Kevin Morgan lives and where he publishes his new blog, athletewithstent.com.

All too often, our Forum serves as a kind of complaint department — where patients write in about problems they are having after stents, angioplasty, angiograms, etc. They usually find our Forum through search engines like Google (e.g. look up “Stents Plavix Aspirin“). And these posts are important because on our Forum people can share stories and discover they are not alone.

But Kevin isn’t having problems. In fact, he writes that he feels “so lucky to be alive” and he wants to find other AAA stent graft athletes to create a community on his blog. So to help him we opened a new topic on our Forum, “Living and Training with an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Stent Graft“.

Turns out Kevin has been an “IronMan” competitor for years — that’s him in the photo above, in the summer of 2010, just two weeks before he discovered an aneurysm in his aorta. He had suspected something was wrong and, when this was confirmed by his cardiologist, he was told it was 7cm and was given a 50% chance of survival by the end of the year, unless the aneurysm was treated. So a stent graft was placed in his aorta.

The treatment for this type of aneurysm used to require opening the abdomen, excising the aneurysm and surgically repairing the aorta by sewing in a graft — very invasive open surgery. But in the 1990’s an alternative procedure was invented by Dr. Juan Parodi — using techniques similar to angioplasty, a stent graft was threaded through an opening in the femoral or iliac artery, into the aorta and expanded: no open surgery needed.

In the short 6 minute video clip below, Dr. Parodi and colleagues tell the story of the first endovascular AAA repair (from Angioplasty.Org’s documentary, “Vascular Pioneers: Evolution of a Specialty” — you can buy the DVD online.):

In the early days, the endovascular stent devices were less sophisticated than they are now, and this less invasive repair was used very cautiously, reserved for patients too sick for surgery, patients so weak that they probably would not survive an open procedure.

But now we have Kevin, a 67-year-old IronMan Athlete with an aortic stent graft — and he’s blogging! And…he’s moving back into IronMan training, swimming, running, and biking. And…he’s looking for patients to share stories and training ideas with. Check out his blog at athletewithstent.com.

(For more information on recent studies comparing open surgery and endovascular stent-grafts, see our article “Stent Grafts for Minimally Invasive Aortic Aneurysm Repair“.)

(This post has been revised to reflect the fact that surgical repair of an AAA is done by opening the abdomen — thanks to reader DW.)

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