Feeling your pulse in your stomach can be a scary experience.
You might feel like you have a life-threatening illness. However, the truth is that many people experience a pulsating stomach.
In this post, we’ll show you what’s causing it.
What Causes Stomach Pulsing?
The aorta is the largest artery in the body. When blood leaves the heart, it enters the aorta to get transported throughout the body.
Part of the aorta, called the descending aorta, runs right through the abdomen.
This means that when you place your hand over your stomach, it’s normal to feel the pulsating of your blood.
Generally, the skinnier/thinner you are, the easier it will be to feel the pulse. People who are overweight or obese can’t feel it as easily.
Can a Pulse in the Stomach Signify Something Serious?
It’s possible that the pulsating feeling in your abdomen is a sign of an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).
An aneurysm happens whenever the wall of the artery weakens.
Over time, the wall of the artery can rupture, leading to serious complications (even death).
It’s also possible for a blot clot to form in the damaged part of the artery.
If the blood clot travels to your lungs or brain, it can lead to death. So, yes- a pulse in the stomach can be a sign of an AAA.
How Common Are Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms?
One of the reasons why abdominal aortic aneurysms kill so many people is because they grow slowly.
Since they grow so slowly, they usually don’t present any symptoms at all.
As the aneurysm grows, it may manifest as a pulsating feeling near the belly button.
You may also experience pain in the belly, back, or side. Can you reduce your risk of an AAA? Absolutely!
If you’re a smoker then you should stop immediately as this can slow the growth of the aneurysm.
If the aneurysm is small, the doctor might choose to only monitor it. If the aneurysm is very large, then your doctor will likely opt to repair it with surgery.
Having high blood pressure is a huge risk factor for the development of AAAs.
Having high blood pressure means that your blood is putting a lot of stress on the walls of your arteries.
If you’re young and healthy, high blood pressure probably won’t affect you.
However, over time, high blood pressure can increase your risk of death.
Other risk factors for AAAs include having high cholesterol, being male, being over 60 years of age, and having emphysema.
If you have these risk factors, and you feel a strong pulse in your stomach, then go see a doctor.
Could it Be Anxiety?
While anxiety research is still young, there’s a lot of evidence showing how it can affect the body.
Specifically, it can cause people to feel symptoms that aren’t there.
It can also make people hyper-aware of their body, which can make small things (like tingling) feel like something serious.
If you’re an anxious person, consider the possibility that your symptom is all mental.
While the pulsating in your stomach is there, you could be drawing it out of proportion due to your anxiety.
An estimated 40 million adults in the United States have an anxiety disorder. Most of these people are women.
How Strong is the Pulsating Feeling?
The strength of the pulsating is important for determining whether it’s serious.
The stronger it is, the more likely it is to be an aneurysm. Just remember that this is a guideline- not a concrete rule.
It’s possible to have a strong pulse in your stomach and not have anything wrong with you. Likewise, it’s possible to feel no pulse and have an aneurysm.
When Do You Feel It?
Most people experience this symptom when they’re lying on their back.
It might become more prominent before falling asleep. The most likely reason behind this is that you’re more aware of your body prior to falling asleep.
The pulsating may become stronger after a big meal or after physical activity (like exercise or sex).
If you follow the pulse, you’ll notice that it goes hand-in-hand with your heart beat.
This is considered normal and skinny people will feel it more noticeably than overweight people.
Should You See a Doctor?
It depends on how strong it is as well as to what extent it’s bothering you.
If it’s not bothering you, and you have no other symptoms, then you probably don’t need to see a doctor.
But if the pulse is quite strong, or if you have other symptoms, it’s probably best to get it checked out.
If you’re unsure, go see a doctor. As with any symptom without a known cause, it’s better to be safe than sorry.