Why Can I Feel My Heartbeat in My Stomach?

Some people experience what feels like a heartbeat or pulse in their abdomen at some point. This is your abdominal aorta pulsating. It can be a normal feeling in healthy people, especially people who are very slim, but in some people it can also be a sign of a serious health condition, called an abdominal aortic aneurysm, or AAA 34. If you have concerns about this symptom, ask you doctor -- and you have other symptoms, such as severe or persistent pain in your abdomen or back, seek immediate medical attention or call 911.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

The Abdominal Aorta

The abdominal aorta is a major artery that carries blood, oxygen and nutrients from your heart to other parts of your body. It is located to the left of the spine, between the chest and navel.

A Heartbeat Feeling

You can sometimes feel the pulse of the abdominal aorta, what feels like a heartbeat, by pressing into your abdomen above the navel. You may also feel it at other times or in certain positions, such as lying on your stomach. Thin people are more likely to notice this feeling, due to less abdominal fat.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

A heavy pulsating of the abdominal aorta could be a sign of an abdominal aortic aneurysm 34. This is caused by a weak spot in the wall of the artery, which then bulges out. In addition to a pulsing sensation, your doctor might notice a lump or mass in the abdomen, or your doctor might notice that your abdomen feels rigid. It's important to diagnose and treat an AAA before it ruptures, so if you suspect you might have one, see your doctor.

Who's at Risk?

According to PubMEd Health, abdominal aortic aneurysms are more common among men over 60 years old who have certain other risk factors, including high blood pressure and smoking 14. There may be certain genetic risk factors as well.