Forecasting aortic aneurysm rupture: A systematic review of seasonal and atmospheric associations

J Vasc Surg. 2019 May;69(5):1615-1632.e17. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2018.09.030. Epub 2019 Feb 18.


Background: Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs) represent a significant burden of disease worldwide, and their rupture, without treatment, has an invariably high mortality rate. Whereas some risk factors for ruptured AAAs (rAAAs) are well established, such as hypertension, smoking, and female sex, the impact of seasonal and meteorologic variables is less clear. We systematically reviewed the literature to determine whether these variables are associated with rAAA.

Methods: Review methods were according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. We calculated pooled proportions and incidence rate ratios (IRRs) for the different months and seasons. Funnel plots were constructed to assess for publication bias. Given the poor methodologic quality of included studies, a sensitivity analysis was performed on better-quality studies, which scored 6 and above of 9 in the author-modified Newcastle-Ottawa Scale.

Results: The pooled proportion of rAAA was highest in the autumn season (incidence rate, 26.6%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 25.6%-27.7%; I2 = 15.4%), followed by winter (incidence rate, 26.2%; 95% CI, 24.1%-28.2%; I2 = 72.4%), and lowest in summer (incidence rate, 21.1%; 95% CI, 19.3%-23.0%; I2 = 70.4%). The IRRs of rAAA were -6.9% (95% CI, -9.8% to -3.9%), -19.5% (95% CI, -22% to -16.8%), +10.5% (95% CI, 7.2%-13.9%), and +18.1% (95% CI, 15%-22%) in spring, summer, autumn, and winter compared with the remaining seasons, respectively (all P < .0001), thus affirming existence of seasonal variation. The pooled proportion of rAAA was highest in December (incidence rate, 8.9%; 95% CI, 7.1%-10.9%; I2 = 54.5%) but lowest in July (incidence rate, 5.7%; 95% CI, 4.2%-7.3%; I2 = 54.5%). The IRR was significantly the highest in January (IRR, 1.14; 95% CI, 1.01-1.29; P = .031) but lowest in July (IRR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.65-0.87; P < .0001). There is also some evidence for a possible association with atmospheric pressure. Associations with temperature and daylight hours, however, are at best speculative.

Conclusions: Autumn and winter are significantly associated with a higher incidence of rAAAs, and autumn is associated with the highest rupture incidence of all the seasons. However, the inability to appropriately control for other confounding factors known to increase the risk of AAA rupture precludes any additional recommendations to alter current provision of vascular services on the basis of these data.

Keywords: Aorta aneurysm; Aortic rupture; Chronobiology; Seasonal.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aortic Aneurysm / diagnostic imaging
  • Aortic Aneurysm / epidemiology*
  • Aortic Rupture / diagnostic imaging
  • Aortic Rupture / epidemiology*
  • Atmospheric Pressure*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Seasons*
  • Time Factors
  • Weather*