Outcome of the Swedish Nationwide Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Program

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Abstract

Background:

A general abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening program, targeting 65-year-old men, has gradually been introduced in Sweden since 2006 and reached nationwide coverage in 2015. The aim of this study was to determine the outcome of this program.

Methods:

Data on the number of invited and examined men, screening-detected AAAs, AAAs operated on, and surgical outcome were retrieved from all 21 Swedish counties for the years 2006 through 2014. AAA-specific mortality data were retrieved from the Swedish Cause of Death Registry. A linear regression analysis was used to estimate the effect on AAA-specific mortality among all men ≥65 years of age for the observed time period. The long-term effects were projected by using a validated Markov model.

Results:

Of 302 957 men aged 65 years invited, 84% attended. The prevalence of screening-detected AAA was 1.5%. After a mean of 4.5 years, 29% of patients with AAA had been operated on, with a 30-day mortality rate of 0.9% (1.3% after open repair and 0.3% after endovascular repair, P<0.001). The introduction of screening was associated with a significant reduction in AAA-specific mortality (mean, 4.0% per year of screening, P=0.020). The number needed to screen and the number needed to operate on to prevent 1 premature death were 667 and 1.5, respectively. With a total population of 9.5 million, the Swedish national AAA-screening program was predicted to annually prevent 90 premature deaths from AAA and to gain 577 quality-adjusted life-years. The incremental cost-efficiency ratio was estimated to be €7770 per quality-adjusted life-years.

Conclusions:

Screening 65-year-old men for AAA is an effective preventive health measure and is highly cost-effective in a contemporary setting. These findings confirm the results from earlier randomized controlled trials and model studies in a large population-based setting of the importance for future healthcare decision making.

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