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      Screening of COPD patients for abdominal aortic aneurysm

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          Screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) in “men aged over 65 years who have ever smoked” is a recommended policy. To reduce the number of screenings, it may be of value to define subgroups with a higher prevalence of AAA. Since chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and AAA are associated with several common risk factors, this study investigates the prevalence of AAA in COPD patients.

          Patients and methods

          Patients with COPD were identified via the hospital information system. Inclusion criteria were: COPD stage I–IV, ability to give full consent, and age >18 years; exclusion criteria were: patient too obese for an ultrasound check, previously diagnosed AAA, prior surgery for AAA, or ethical grounds such as concomitant advanced malignant or end-stage disease. The primary endpoint of the study was an aortic diameter measured by ultrasound of ≥30 mm. Defined secondary endpoints were evaluated on the basis of medical records and interviews.


          Of the 1,180 identified COPD patients, 589 were included in this prospective study. In 22 patients (3.70%), the aortic diameter was ≥30 mm, representing an AAA prevalence of 6.72% among males aged >65 years. The risk of AAA increased with the following comorbidities/risk factors: male sex (odds ratio [OR] 2.98), coronary heart disease (OR 2.81), peripheral arterial occlusive disease (OR 2.47), hyperlipoproteinemia (OR 2.77), AAA in the family history (OR 3.95), and COPD stage I/II versus IV (OR 1.81).


          The overall AAA prevalence of 3.7% in our group of COPD patients is similar to that of the general population aged >65 years. However, the frequency of AAA in male COPD patients aged >65 years is considerably higher (6.72%) and increased further still in those individuals with additional comorbidities/risk factors. Defining subgroups with a higher risk of AAA may increase the efficiency of screening.

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          Most cited references 34

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          Management of abdominal aortic aneurysms clinical practice guidelines of the European society for vascular surgery.

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            From COPD to chronic systemic inflammatory syndrome?

             L. Fabbri,  K. F. Rabe (2007)
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              Analysis of risk factors for abdominal aortic aneurysm in a cohort of more than 3 million individuals.

              Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) disease is an insidious condition with an 85% chance of death after rupture. Ultrasound screening can reduce mortality, but its use is advocated only for a limited subset of the population at risk. We used data from a retrospective cohort of 3.1 million patients who completed a medical and lifestyle questionnaire and were evaluated by ultrasound imaging for the presence of AAA by Life Line Screening in 2003 to 2008. Risk factors associated with AAA were identified using multivariable logistic regression analysis. We observed a positive association with increasing years of smoking and cigarettes smoked and a negative association with smoking cessation. Excess weight was associated with increased risk, whereas exercise and consumption of nuts, vegetables, and fruits were associated with reduced risk. Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians had lower risk of AAA than whites and Native Americans. Well-known risk factors were reaffirmed, including male gender, age, family history, and cardiovascular disease. A predictive scoring system was created that identifies aneurysms more efficiently than current criteria and includes women, nonsmokers, and individuals aged <65 years. Using this model on national statistics of risk factors prevalence, we estimated 1.1 million AAAs in the United States, of which 569,000 are among women, nonsmokers, and individuals aged <65 years. Smoking cessation and a healthy lifestyle are associated with lower risk of AAA. We estimated that about half of the patients with AAA disease are not eligible for screening under current guidelines. We have created a high-yield screening algorithm that expands the target population for screening by including at-risk individuals not identified with existing screening criteria.

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of COPD
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                Dove Medical Press
                10 June 2015
                : 10
                : 1085-1091
                [1 ]Department for Vascular Medicine, Helios Klinikum Emil von Behring, Berlin, Germany
                [2 ]Department of Pneumology, Helios Klinikum Emil von Behring, Berlin, Germany
                [3 ]Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Ingo H Flessenkaemper, Department for Vascular Medicine, Helios Klinikum Emil von Behring, Walterhöferstraße, 11, 14165 Berlin, Germany, Tel/fax +49 30 8102 2200, Email ingo.flessenkaemper@
                © 2015 Flessenkaemper et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Original Research


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