AAA And Blood Pressure, The Plot Thickens, And Don’t Forget To Use Your Butt

Hi! Folks,

My son Nick just sent me a link to an excellent article by Susan McClure concerning abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) and hypertension, published at the blog site. This report, which is very well written, interested me a great deal as I have dangerously high post-stent hypertension. I showed no signs of high blood pressure before I received my life-saving Cook, Zenith stent. There is good experimental evidence indicating that AAA endovascular stent grafts can actually induce hypertension: see comment on this post by my new triathlon coach, Eric Bean, and the linked article on the application of in vitro models to the study of blood pressure in response to aortic stent grafts by O’Brien et al. (2008).

Now that I am on a ACE inhibitor, I’m busy collecting more blood pressure data, which I’ll post as it comes in. You have to be your own advocate when it comes to complex medical issues, as was so clearly described in Lance Armstrong’s inspiring book, ‘It’s Not About The Bike.’ I must admit that I have also been thinking about other things for a change, as self-obsessing is boring to oneself and irritating to others!!

Once again I have been mulling over the nature of network behavior, especially with respect to events in the Middle East, and the role of interpersonal networking in our daily lives. For instance, my bike guy, Victor, said that I need to use Facebook (Fb) to get my message out, but I don’t like Fb that much as I always feel that too many people are watching me. This comment from Victor, however, along with information from Pauline (see her story under ‘About‘ in this blog) resulted in my entering the Chez Ollie, of which I was entirely unaware. Wish I’d been told about this when I left my surgeon’s office!

Then I thought about recent events, involving a network of only three nodes, that directed me to consider the use of my butt (glutes) a little more closely, especially when training. Two apparently unrelated events occurred out of the blue over a period of a couple of days, these being (a) when Victor was doing my latest bike fit, he noticed that I was not engaging my glutes sufficiently, and (b) Karen, my Feldenkrais instructor, sent me a link to a book, ‘The Art of Slowing Down: A Sense-Able Approach to Running Faster,’ by Edward Yu. One exercise in this book emphasizes our tendency to fail to use our glutes adequately, and provides a simple and typical ‘Feldenkraisian’ approach to their activation for forward propulsion whilst running. I found this exercise to be extremely effective on my next long bike ride. So much so, in fact, that I asked Karen to cover it at my next session, which she did to great effect. Interestingly, increasing the engagement of my glutes on the bike clearly spared my weak hip flexors and adductors, which was a real boon as I find them to be a constant source of problems during heavy training. The nature of muscle firing patterns, and where the glutes fit in on the bike, are nicely presented in the picture below from Rob Muller’s blog (Thanks Rob!):

Muscle Engagement During Bike Spin

Well! That’s it for today. Take a look at the LiveStrong blog AAA story. This article contains lots of useful links for us AAA-people. It really is great to see awareness of AAA increasing, at last. Wish I’d known more about it before I nearly killed myself at Lake Placid in 2010! I’m still planning to kick ass (with my ass!) at LPIM in 2011, I hasten to say!

When it comes to risk of death from AAA, improved screening is the key, and I think that such screening should be much more aggressive than the levels recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force, don’t you?





  1. Well, Kevin, after introducing you to your glutes per your request, I realized I never use my glutes while biking either. [I do use my glutes in many ways — hiking, climbing hills and stairs, getting out of a chair, jumping etc — it just never occurred to me to use them on the bike! Ah, the blind-spots in our self-image can really sabotage our performance, can’t they?…..] So on my latest ride on my trainer, per my instructions to you, I searched for them and found ’em! WOW — using the glutes during the spin sure does change my power output and decreases the load on my quads and my knees. I’m so glad you came in with that specific request – “help me find my glutes for biking”. Thanks to your bike guy for bringing this to our attention!

    Isn’t attention and awareness amazing?

    Karen, Feldenkrais Method teacher

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.