Background: Recent meta-analyses suggested that screening program for abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) in 65-year old males is cost-effective at prevalence of about 1%. Since some events occur also in females and among the youngers, screening could be feasible among those at higher risk, such as smokers or individuals with a family history of AAA. The RoCAV (Risk of Cardiovascular diseases and abdominal aortic Aneurysms in Varese) Project is a population-based study aimed to evaluate AAA prevalence in Northern Italy in males over-65 years as well as among females and younger males, and to identify new markers for risk stratification by collecting a large set of CVD risk factors. The aims of the project are: (i) cross-sectional evaluation of AAA prevalence (ii); evaluation of standard CVD risk score as criteria for selecting subgroup at higher risk to be included in a screening program; (iii) identification of new risk markers and risk score algorithm for AAA and CVD risk stratification; (iv) cost-effective evaluation during the follow-up.
Methods: Males aged 50-75 years and females aged 60-75 years, resident in the city of Varese (Lombardy Region), were randomly selected from the civil registry. Among 5198 successfully invited, 3777 subjects accepted to participate and were finally recruited (participation rate 63.8%) from June 2013 to May 2016. Trained operators administered a computerized anamnestic questionnaire, measured anthropometric parameters (BMI, body circumferences, skinfolds), blood pressure, ankle-brachial index, pulse wave velocity and performed abdominal aortic ultrasound scan, ECG and spirometry. All methods were internationally validated. A blood sample was collected and stored in biobank. A follow-up will be carried out through linkage with electronic records.
Discussion: Participation rate and data quality assessment were as expected and will reasonably allow to reach the project aims. The expected impact in public health of the RoCAV project will be the potential implementation of a AAA screening program to the whole region as well as the formulation of new criteria for risk assessment of AAA and CVD.
Keywords: ABI; Abdominal aortic aneurysm; Cardiovascular risk; Diet; Electrocardiography; PWV; Population based study; Screening; Spirometry; Vascular diseases.