British committee recommends AAA screening for men

January 9, 2006

The U.K.’s national screening committee has recommended routine abdominal aortic aneurysm screening for men over the age of 65. Doctors have welcomed the move but questioned the committee’s decision not to include women, according to an article in Pulse, a newspaper for general practitioners.

The U.K.'s national screening committee has recommended routine abdominal aortic aneurysm screening for men over the age of 65. Doctors have welcomed the move but questioned the committee's decision not to include women, according to an article in Pulse, a newspaper for general practitioners.

The decision follows a number of recent studies finding that ultrasound screening for AAA could be effective. Surgery will be recommended for aneurysms over 5 cm in diameter.

The committee justified its decision to screen only men by citing their much higher death rate from the disease. AAAs account for 1.36% of deaths in men and 0.45% in women over the age of 65 years, the article said.

"The committee may well be justified in its decision to screen men only, but it will have to be prepared to communicate its reasons effectively, because there are bound to be concerns," said Pulse editor Phil Johnson. "Women are routinely less well treated for cardiovascular disease than men, and it would be a shame if a new and important innovation exacerbated that problem."

The U.K.'s recommendation parallels a proposal early last year by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to screen for AAAs only in men between the ages of 65 and 75 who have ever smoked.

The Society of Interventional Radiology, working in conjunction with the National Aneurysm Alliance, a coalition of medical specialty societies, foundations, and industrial partners, had petitioned the USPSTF to expand its screening recommendation. SIR wants screening available for all male nonsmokers and women with a family history of AAA.

In late 2005, the U.S. Senate passed a budget reconciliation bill that included an amendment to fund a one-time ultrasound screening for AAAs.

For more information from the Diagnostic Imaging archives:

AAA screening receives boost from Senate

AAA screening recommendation comes up short

AAA screening concept gains ground but faces funding challenge

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