Washington, DC - The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released recommendations Tuesday on which symptom-free patients should be screened for abdominal aortic aneurysms, potentially deadly ruptures of the body's major blood vessel.
The panel recommended one-time screening with an ultrasound for men 65 to 75 who smoke, and also for those who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetimes. It says more research is needed to determine whether screening women in that age group who smoke or have smoked would be helpful.
Non-smoking men 65 to 75 should consult with their physician to see whether they should be screened based on their health history, such as a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms. It recommended against screening non-smoking women.
Mayo Clinic vascular surgeon Peter Gloviczki, M.D., welcomed the task force recommendation to screen older men with a history of tobacco use.
"It is important to screen patients because most people with abdominal aortic aneurysms don't have symptoms," says Dr. Gloviczki, a past president of the Society for Vascular Surgery.
Male gender, older age, a history of smoking, a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms and medical conditions such as coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are risk factors for abdominal aortic aneurysms, he says.
The question of whether to screen becomes more complicated among women, Dr. Gloviczki says.
"These are the recommendations I am sure will stir some controversy," Dr. Gloviczki says. "I think there are certain situations, particularly when there's a family history of abdominal aortic aneurysms, when women should be screened."