Explaining the decrease in mortality from abdominal aortic aneurysm rupture

Br J Surg. 2012 May;99(5):637-45. doi: 10.1002/bjs.8698.


Background: A steady rise in mortality from abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) was reported in the 1980s and 1990 s, although this is now declining rapidly. Reasons for the recent decline in mortality from AAA rupture are investigated here.

Methods: Routine statistics for mortality, hospital admissions and procedures in England and Wales were investigated. All data were age-standardized. Trends in smoking, hypertension and treatment for hypercholesterolaemia (statins), together with regression coefficients for mortality, were available from public sources for those aged at least 65 years. Deaths from ruptured AAA avoided in this age group were estimated by using the IMPACT equation: deaths avoided = (deaths in index year) × (risk factor decline) × β-coefficient.

Results: From 1997, deaths from ruptured AAA have decreased sharply, almost twofold in men. Hospital admissions for elective AAA repair have increased modestly (from 40 to 45 per 100,000 population), attributable entirely to more procedures in those aged 75 years and over (P < 0.001). Admissions for ruptured AAA have declined from 18.6 to 13.5 per 100,000 population, across all ages, with the proportion offered and surviving emergency repair unchanged. From 1997, mortality from ruptured aneurysm in those aged at least 65 years has fallen from 65.9 to 44.6 per 100,000 population. An estimated 8-11 deaths per 100,000 population were avoided by a reduced prevalence of smoking and a similar number from an increase in the number of elective AAA repairs. Estimates for the effects of blood pressure and lipid control are uncertain.

Conclusion: The reduction in incidence of ruptured AAA since 1997 is attributable largely to changes in smoking prevalence and increases in elective AAA repair in those aged 75 years and over.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal / mortality*
  • Aortic Rupture / mortality*
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / mortality
  • Hypertension / mortality
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoking / mortality
  • Wales / epidemiology