Abominal Aortic Aneurysm Risks Targeted in Study

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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Researchers have targeted risk factors for developing abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) that reveals more about who is at risk for the life threatening condition. Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening guidelines miss half of patients with the disease, spawning the collaborative effort from the Society for Vascular Surgery® in and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine Department of Health Evidence and Policy in New York City that expands identification of patients at risk for aneurysm rupture that can lead to death.

“During our research we determined that approximately half of the patients having AAA disease are not eligible for screening under current guidelines, so we created a high-yield screening algorithm that expands the target population,” said Craig Kent, MD, a vascular surgeon and Chair of Surgery at University of Wisconsin." In addition to well known risk factors, the researchers were able to identify females, non-smokers and individuals 65 years and younger, also at risk for abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm is risky for smokers, and is more prevalent in men and patients with heart disease and high blood pressure. The risk also increases with age.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm occurs when the blood vessel enlarges, taking on the appearance of a balloon. If the enlargement continues, the aorta ruptures, leading to bleeding and death.

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Medicare guidelines allow for screening of AAA for individuals who have smoked more than 100 cigarettes in a lifetime and for patients with a family history of the disease, leaving out a large portion of individuals at risk and not eligible for screening.

“Abdominal aortic aneurysm is an insidious condition with an 85 percent chance of death following rupture,” said Dr. Kent. “Screening using noninvasive ultrasound can save lives but its use is advocated only for a limited subset of the population at risk. Patients, who are not in an emergency situation prior to a rupture, have an option to undergo elective surgical repair or their aneurysms which is a safe and effective intervention.”

Regression Analysis Found who is at Risk for Abdominal Aortic Disease

The researchers used regression analysis to find who else is at risk for AAA. Dr. Kent says, “Using this current model on national statistics of risk factors prevalence, we estimated that there are 1.1 million AAAs in the United States, of which 569,000 are among the women, patients that did not smoke and persons age 65 or younger.”

Other findings include higher risk of aortic abdominal aneurysm from obesity. The number of years and cigarettes smoked was linked to increased incidence of AAA. Smoking cessation lowered the chances of aneurysm in the abdominal aorta, as did regular exercise and consumption of fruits, nuts and vegetables.

The researchers collected data from 20,000 screening sites nationwide that included patients who had completed a medical and lifestyle questionnaire and were evaluated by ultrasound for the presence of AAA by Life Line Screening. The findings showed that women, non-smokers, and persons age 65 and younger are also at risk for abdominal aortic aneurysm and that Blacks, Hispanics and Asians had lower risk of having AAA compared to Whites.

Journal of Vascular Surgery Sept 2010

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Life Line Screening was happy to produce data that helped with this study. Visit www.lifelinescreening.com for more information about our community-based preventive health screenings services, which include the abdominal aortic aneurysm screening, a simple, non-invasive ultrasound that can help save your life.