"That's why detecting these aneurysms early and monitoring or repairing them is crucial," Dr. Kent says.
But right now, doctors are actually being advised against providing their female patients with the 10-minute ultrasound test that could spot the problem. The noninvasive test itself is relatively inexpensive (about $40) and is often bundled with other diagnostic screens.
In the new study, Dr. Kent and colleagues recruited 17,540 patients from 100 hospitals and clinics spread across the United States. Overall, the cohort included 10,012 women over the age of 65 (average age 69.6 years) and 7,528 men over the age of 60 (average age 70).
Patients were questioned as to their demographics, history of smoking and medical histories. They also underwent conventional AAA ultrasound screening.
Overall, AAA showed up in 291 (3.9%) of the men and 74 (0.7%) of the women -- similar to the usual rate. But certain subgroups of women fared much worse. For example, women over age 65 were more than four times as likely to have this type of aneurysm than women younger than 65, and that risk grew by 10 percent with every added year of age.
Women with a history of smoking, or a history of heart disease (i.e., a prior heart attack or coronary bypass) faced triple the risk of AAA, the researchers found.
Any combination of the above risk factors boosted a woman's odds of AAA by up to six-fold, the team found.
"The bottom line, in terms of the cost-effectiveness of screening older women, is that these tests are probably not useful for the general population, but are certainly warranted for women over 65 with risk factors such as smoking and a history of heart disease," Dr. Kent says. "In fact, having just one of those risk factors alone may also indicate a need for screening, based on a discussion between the patient and her doctor."
"We hope t
|Contact: Emily Berlanstein|
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College