Based on a recent study performed in Denmark, it was concluded that screening men aged 65-74 for abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA), peripheral arterial disease, and hypertension saved lives in this randomized study of 50,000 men. The study lasted 4.4 years, and the mortality was 7% lower (statistically significant) in the group that was screened in this "triple screening" study compared to men who were not screened. Based on these results, the Danish Health Authority will likely be making a recommendation for all physicians to add this triple screening protocol to all patients in this age group.
Ongoing studies are also looking for women in a targeted age range, but for now the greatest benefits seem to be in men. If abnormalities were found, the patients were started on ASA, a statin, or both, and a small number of those with a AAA underwent surgical repair during the following 5 years. The results done on the population of men in the 65-74 age group showed that for every 169 men screened, the program saved one life compared to men in the control arm, who were not treated. Looking a the whole group of 50,000 men, 295 lives were saved, which is a very significant number.
This report highlights the importance of screening testing for these cardiovascular risk factors that can be done easily in a Cardiovascular Office all on a one day visit and which can have tremendous benefits for the potential of saving lives. These tests are also recognized by almost all insurances and are re-reimbursed, leaving little out of pocket expense for the patient.
At Fanwood-Westfield Cardiology we routinely do these screening tests for our patients in this age group and we have found frequent vascular abnormalities which were able to be treated early, thereby saving patients the possibility of having severe vascular problems develop and also potentially preventing sudden cardiac death.