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Task Force Recommends Screening Some Men for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Evidence suggests that screening benefits older men who have smoked

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has published a final recommendation statement on screening adults aged 50 years and older for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). This statement applies to people who do not have symptoms of AAA.

After reviewing the evidence, the task force issued varying recommendations for men and women according to their smoking history. The task force recommends one-time ultrasound screening for men aged 65 to 75 years who currently smoke or who have smoked 100 cigarettes or more in the past.

AAA is a serious condition that is often asymptomatic. If untreated, a large aneurysm can burst or rupture without warning, and a high percentage of ruptures can cause death.

The task force recommends that men aged 65 to 75 years who have never smoked should talk to their doctor or nurse to see whether one-time AAA screening is appropriate based on their health history and on the potential benefits and harms of screening.

The evidence for the benefits and harms of screening differs between men and women. The task force calls for more research to determine whether AAA screening is beneficial for women aged 65 to 75 years who have a smoking history. Because of this lack of evidence, the task force concluded that it could not recommend for or against screening older women who smoke.

Among women who don’t smoke, the chance of developing AAA is extremely small (well under 1%). The task force found that AAA screening is unlikely to benefit these women and may even cause harm. The task force recommends against screening for AAA in women who don’t smoke.

The task force’s final recommendation statement was published online in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Source: USPSTF; June 24, 2014.

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