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Aortic dissection, aortic aneurysm - The aorta - Life after an aortic dissection

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms: Source: The British Heart Foundation: Jan08

The following are two excerpts from the British Heart Foundation Factfile on AAA (Abdominal Aortic Aneursyms). Sobering reading especially in that both abdominal aortic aneurysms and ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms continues to grow ever year.

The “normal” diameter of the abdominal aorta is approximately 2cm, a dimension that increases with age. An abdominal aneurysm is defined by an aortic diameter exceeding 3cm. In those over 65y, abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) are present in 5-7.5% of males and 1.5-3.0% of females. Ruptured aortic aneurysms are the 13th commonest cause of death in the UK, responsible for 12,000 deaths per year, with infra-renal abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) causing 8,000 of these deaths. The incidence of both AAA and ruptured AAA continues to increase year on year.

Screening for AAA (This is GOOD NEWS!)
The vast majority of deaths caused by aneurysmal disease are due to rupture of undiagnosed aneurysms. In an attempt to overcome this problem, screening for AAA has been proposed to identify aneurysms before rupture and facilitate elective treatment. AAA may be effectively diagnosed by the use of community based US examination. In a recent trial of 67,800 patients, receiving an invitation to community based screening reduced the aneurysm-related mortality substantially. These results, combined with those of other similar trials, have led the National Screening Committee to the conclude that a national programme of aneurysm screening should be applied to males aged 65 and over (there is insufficient evidence on which to base a similar call for women). The government has recently announced its intention to fund such a programme. If properly funded, the overall mortality from AAA should be reduced but, because many small AAA will be detected, the number of patients requiring regular ultrasound review is likely to be large.

The full factfile from the British Heart Foundation can be found here

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Tags: AAA, abdominal, aneursym, aortic, heart, operation

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