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Study boost for aneurysm screening

26th June 2009

Research has shown that screening 65-year-old men for abdominal aortic aneurysms could decrease deaths from the condition by half.

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A decade of information gleaned from an English trial of 67,770 men revealed that there were 155 deaths in men who had been screened, compared to 296 deaths in those who had not received screening.

This research encouraged the government to design an aneurysm screening programme, which is currently being run in six parts of England. The programme will be extended to other parts of England by 2013.

Burst aortic aneurysms causes 6,000 male deaths every year.

The most recent research showed that one ultrasound screening reduced deaths from the condition by 42% at four years, 47% at seven years, and 48% at 10 years.

The cost effectiveness of the screening equated to £7,600 "per year of life gained after 10 years".

In contrast, another study by a research team in Denmark using computer models to determine how beneficial the effects of screening were, decided that it was "too expensive to be worthwhile".

Jonathan Earnshaw, a vascular surgeon and director of the national screening programme, said the English research showed that screening "becomes more and more beneficial as time goes by."

He said they would "take notice" of the study from Denmark and would be keeping a close eye on the screening programme to ensure it was having the forecasted effects.

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