New research shows most women unlikely to benefit from national AAA screening

Posted by pt91 at Jul 27, 2018 12:40 PM |
Study of screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms involves University of Leicester researcher

Issued by University of Leicester on 27 July 2018

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New research published in The Lancet, which was funded and supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), has come to important conclusions about screening women for abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs).

The NHS introduced ultrasound screening in men aged 65 and over in 2009 to detect and treat the condition – which arises when the main blood vessel swells in the abdomen, and is symptomless until the point of rupture. Since the launch, the programme has been successfully screening and identifying men at risk of an AAA.

Researchers wanted to see if UK women – who are less likely to have AAAs – could also benefit from a similar screening programme.

Co-author Professor Matthew Bown, from the University of Leicester and honorary consultant vascular surgeon at Leicester’s Hospitals, said: “AAA is a serious condition and although it is less common in women we investigated whether extending the screening to women would be beneficial.”

Project leader and Cambridge statistician Professor Simon Thompson said: “In this project we used a sophisticated computer model to find out whether an AAA screening programme for women would be cost-effective.

“This showed that if women were also offered screening, only a very small number would benefit and the cost of such a screening programme would not be a good use of NHS resources.”

But more research is needed to understand this condition in women. Study co-author Janet Powell, Visiting Professor at Imperial College, said: “We need better information on aortic sizes of women at different ages, and whether screening has adverse effects on quality of life.

“A future step would be to see if there are certain groups of women at higher risk of the disease who might benefit from a targeted screening programme.”


Notes for editors

  1. This research was funded by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme and supported by the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre.
  2. The SWAN study team included researchers from the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, the University of Leicester, the University of Sheffield and Brunel University London.
  3. The research is published in The Lancet
  4. The SWAN study found that for every 3,900 women invited for AAA screening, 12 new AAAs would be detected preventing one AAA death at a cost to the NHS of £140,000.
  5. For more information about the project:
  6. For more information about the NHS AAA screening programme:

About NIHR

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): improving the health and wealth of the nation through research.

Established by the Department of Health and Social Care, the NIHR:

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For further information, visit the NIHR website

About Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre

Based within the most outstanding NHS and University partnerships in the country, the Biomedical Research Centres are leaders in scientific translation. Located on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, they receive substantial levels of funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to translate fundamental biomedical research into clinical research that benefits patients and they are early adopters of new treatments.

About Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH)

Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) is one of the largest and best known hospitals in the country. As well as delivering care through Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie, it is also:

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CUH’s vision is to be one of the best academic healthcare organisations in the world.

About the University of Leicester

The University of Leicester is led by discovery and innovation – an international centre for excellence renowned for research, teaching and broadening access to higher education. It is among the top 25 universities in the Times Higher Education REF Research Power rankings with 75% of research adjudged to be internationally excellent with wide-ranging impacts on society, health, culture, and the environment.

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The University of Leicester is committed to a culture of collaboration.  We believe teaching and research are inseparable and that success is built on partnership and innovation. We have a focus on students and commitment to social mobility and foster a culture of equality where everyone is valued. We are committed to ensuring our successes drive local enterprise and business and contribute to the success of the city and region.  We have an international focus and celebrate the unique character of our University - a welcoming and close-knit campus in one of the most multicultural cities in the UK.

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27 July 2018

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