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Panel: Screen Older Male Smokers for Abdominal Aneurysm

A one-time ultrasound for men aged 65 to 75 could save lives

MONDAY, Jan. 31, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- Former or current male smokers between 65 and 75 years old should receive an ultrasound screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm, recommends the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm, which kills more than 9,000 Americans each year, is an abnormal ballooning within the abdomen of the aorta, the major artery that runs from the heart. Experts estimate that between 59 percent to 83 percent of patients experiencing this type of aneurysm die before reaching the hospital.

The task force noted that close to 70 percent of men between 65 and 75 years of age have been smokers at some point in their lives and would benefit from an ultrasound screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm. This is the first time the task force has made such a recommendation, which appears in the Feb. 1 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Older men who are current or former smokers have the highest risk for abdominal aortic aneurysm, and screening and surgery to repair these aneurysms can reduce the number of deaths caused by this condition, the task force concluded.

It made no recommendation about screening for men who've never smoked and found no evidence of benefit from screening of women.

"This is an important recommendation because evidence now exists that screening high-risk men for abdominal aortic aneurysms can reduce deaths from aneurysm," Task Force chairman Dr. Ned Calonge, chief medical officer and state epidemiologist with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said in a prepared statement.

"One of the most important things men and women can do for their health is to never start smoking and to quit if they do. People who have a family history and might be at risk for abdominal aortic aneurysm should discuss their concerns with their physician," Calonge said.

More information

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons has more about abdominal aortic aneurysm.

SOURCE: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, news release, Jan. 28, 2005
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