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Long term outcomes in men screened for abdominal aortic aneurysm: prospective cohort study

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 04 May 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2958
  1. John L Duncan, consultant1,
  2. Kirsten A Harrild, research fellow2,
  3. Lisa Iversen, research fellow3,
  4. Amanda J Lee, professor2,
  5. David J Godden, professor4
  1. 1Department of Surgery, Raigmore Hospital, Inverness IV2 3UJ, UK
  2. 2Medical Statistics Team, Division of Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
  3. 3Academic Primary Care, Division of Applied Health Sciences, University of Aberdeen
  4. 4Centre for Rural Health, University of Aberdeen, Centre for Health Sciences, Inverness
  1. Correspondence to: J L Duncan john.duncan3{at}
  • Accepted 20 March 2012


Objective To determine whether there is a relation between aortic diameter and morbidity and mortality in men screened for abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Design Prospective cohort study.

Setting Highland and Western Isles (a large, sparsely populated area of Scotland).

Participants 8146 men aged 65-74.

Main outcome measures Morbidity and mortality in relation to presence of abdominal aortic aneurysm and three categories of aortic diameter (≤24 mm, 25-29 mm, and ≥30 mm).

Results When screened, 414 men (5.1%) had an aneurysm (diameter ≥30 mm), 669 (8.2%) an aortic diameter of 25-29 mm, and 7063 (86.7%) an aortic diameter of ≤24 mm. The cohort was followed up for a median of 7.4 (interquartile range 6.9-8.2) years. Mortality was significantly associated with aortic diameter: 512 (7.2%) men in the ≤24 mm group died compared with 69 (10.3%) in the 25-29 mm group and 73 (17.6%) in the ≥30 mm group. The mortality risk in men with an aneurysm or with an aorta measuring 25-29 mm was significantly higher than in men with an aorta of ≤24 mm. The increased mortality risk in the 25-29 mm group was reduced when taking confounders such as smoking and known heart disease into account. After adjustment, compared with men with an aortic diameter of ≤24 mm, the risk of hospital admission for cardiovascular disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was significantly higher in men with aneurysm and those with aortas measuring 25-29 mm. Men with an aneurysm also had an increased risk of hospital admission for cerebrovascular disease, atherosclerosis, peripheral arterial disease, and respiratory disease. In men with aortas measuring 25-29 mm, the risk of hospital admission with abdominal aortic aneurysm was significantly higher than in men with an aorta of ≤24 mm (adjusted hazard ratio 6.7, 99% confidence interval 3.4 to 13.2) and this increased risk became apparent two years after screening.

Conclusions Men with abdominal aortic aneurysm and those with aortic diameters measuring 25-29 mm have an increased risk of mortality and subsequent hospital admissions compared with men with an aorta diameter of ≤24 mm. Consideration should be given to control of risk factors and to rescreening men with aortas measuring 25-29 mm at index scanning.


  • Contributors: JLD, LI, AJL, and DJG designed the study. KAH did the analysis. All authors interpreted the data and were involved in drafting the manuscript. JLD is the guarantor.

  • Funding: The project was funded by a grant from the Chief Scientist Office, Scotland (CZG/2/485). The funder had no role in the study design; the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; the writing of the article; or the decision to submit the article for publication.

  • Competing interests: All authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form at (available on request from the corresponding author) and declare: no support from any organisation for the submitted work other than the grant award; no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.

  • Ethical approval: This study was approved by the Scottish Government Privacy Advisory Committee and the relevant Caldicott Guardian.

  • Data sharing: No additional data available.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

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