Epidemiology and potential for prevention of abdominal aortic aneurysm

Authors

  • Dr A. B. M. Wilmink,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
    2. Department of Surgery, Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Huntingdon, UK
    • Institute of Public Health, University Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 2SR, UK
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  • C. R. G Quick

    1. Department of Surgery, Hinchingbrooke Hospital, Huntingdon, UK
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Abstract

Background

Ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a common cause of death which is preventable by elective repair of an asymptomatic AAA.

Methods

The literature was reviewed with emphasis on epidemiological studies and population-based screening surveys.

Results and Conclusion

The prevalence of small AAA ranges between 3 and 8 per cent. The incidence of asymptomatic AAA seems to be increasing, although exact incidence estimates vary. The most important risk factors for AAA are male sex, age, family history and smoking. Hypertension is associated with a mildly increased risk, but diabetes is not associated with any increase. Primary prevention of AAA is not a realistic option. There is no evidence of an effective medical treatment to prevent growth of small AAAs, although trials with propranolol are under way. The only intervention to prevent death from aneurysm is elective repair of the asymptomatic lesion. Screening for asymptomatic AAA can reduce the incidence of rupture. However, further studies are needed to determine the cost effectiveness of screening compared with that of other health programmes. © 1998 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd

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