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New Recommendations on Screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Benefits and harms of screening differ between men and women (January 28)

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has published its final evidence report on screening adults for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).

AAA often has no symptoms but can be a serious condition. If untreated, a large AAA can burst or rupture without warning, and a high percentage of ruptures can cause death.

In its draft recommendation statement, the task force found that one-time AAA screening can be effective and recommends it for men aged 65 to 75 years who have ever smoked. For men aged 65 to 75 years who have never smoked, the task force recommends that these men talk to their doctor or nurse about whether one-time AAA screening might be right for them based on their health history and the potential benefits and harms of screening.

For women, the task force found that the benefits and harms of screening are different. In its draft recommendation statement, the task force calls for more research to determine whether AAA screening is beneficial for women aged 65 to 75 years who smoke or have smoked in the past. Based on the lack of evidence, the task force determined it could not recommend for or against screening older female smokers.

Among nonsmoking women, the chance of developing AAA is extremely low (well under 1%). The task force found that AAA screening is very unlikely to benefit nonsmoking women and may even cause harm. The task force recommends against screening for AAA in these women.

Source: USPSTF; January 28, 2014.

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