Question: What are the key things to know about abdominal aortic aneurysm screenings in men?
Answer: An abdominal aortic aneurysm refers to enlargement of the aorta, which is the large artery coming from the heart that supplies blood to other parts of the body. An aneurysm refers to a ballooning or a dilation of this particular artery, and an aneurism can be dangerous because they can rupture.
Men are more prone to this particular problems, likely secondary to cigarette smoking, which men have a greater history than women, and also secondary to atherosclerotic plaques, which are more common to men, especially men who smoke. There is a recommendation that men between the ages of 65 and 75 be screened for the aortic abdominal aneurysm -- what we call 'Triple A' -- because these cause about ten thousand deaths a year in this country. When these aneurisms rupture, they are very catastrophic and almost always cause death. And one way to pick these up early is to do ultrasound screening of the abdomen to rule these out. So if you are a man who smokes or has smoked more than a thousand cigarettes in your lifetime, you should have this screening done if you are between the ages of 65 and 75. Speak to your doctor about getting this very important screening done if you fall into this particular category.