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Screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms in women may save lives
Date:11/9/2007

NEW YORK (Nov. 9, 2007) -- In 9 out of 10 cases, a burst abdominal aortic artery is quickly fatal for its most common victim: elderly males. A new study -- the largest yet performed -- now confirms that women over 65 with a history of smoking or heart disease are also at high risk for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) -- supporting the notion that they should also receive ultrasound screening to help spot and correct the dangerous condition.

The findings, reported in the Journal of Vascular Surgery, challenge current recommendations on AAA screening issued by the United States Preventive Services Task Force. Those guidelines recommend that screening only be performed -- and reimbursed by Medicare -- for men aged 65 to 75 who have ever smoked.

The Task Force ruled against screening for older women, citing a lack of evidence to support the cost-effectiveness of such a move.

"That left us scratching our heads," says the study's senior author, Dr. K. Craig Kent, chief of vascular surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, the Greenberg-Starr Professor of Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College and professor of surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. "We know that AAA kills up to 30,000 Americans each year, with the ratio of males to females at about 4 to 1. But that still means that thousands of American women will die from this type of event each year. We wanted to discover whether certain subgroups of women might be at especially heightened risk and therefore benefit from screening."

An AAA occurs when a bubble-like swelling occurs in a portion of the aorta, the major artery that carries blood from the heart through the abdomen to the lower body. As this 'bubble' swells over time, the artery wall can thin out and rupture.

Ruptures can occur suddenly and typically prove fatal. In fact, 85 percent of people who suffer a ruptured AAA die before making it to the hospital, and only half of the 1
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Contact: Emily Berlanstein
eab2007@med.cornell.edu
212-821-0560
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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