Harvard Heart Letter

Refining the rules for abdominal aneurysm testing

More than one million American men and women have a fragile bulge in the aorta, blood's main pipeline out of the heart. Most of them don't know it. In some people, this condition, called abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), never poses a problem. In others, the bulge bursts, with catastrophic consequences. The best way to spot an abdominal aneurysm while it is still small, and to follow its progression, is with a painless, radiation-free ultrasound exam. But checking every adult for an AAA would cost billions of dollars. A task force from the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) may have identified a better way to identify good candidates to be checked for an AAA through a scoring system.
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