Changes in global mortality from aortic aneurysm

J Vasc Surg. 2024 Jul;80(1):81-88.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2024.02.025. Epub 2024 Feb 24.


Objective: Globally, there has been a marked increase in aortic aneurysm-related deaths between 1990 and 2019. We sought to understand the underlying etiologies for this mortality trend by examining secular changes in both demographics and the prevalence of risk factors, and how these changes may vary across sociodemographic index (SDI) regions.

Methods: We queried the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) for aortic aneurysm deaths from 1990 to 2019 overall and by age group. We identified the percentage of aortic aneurysm deaths attributable to each risk factor identified by GBD modeling (smoking, hypertension, lead exposure, and high sodium diet) and their respective changes over time. We then analyzed aneurysm mortality by SDI region.

Results: The number of aortic aneurysm-related deaths have increased from 94,968 in 1990 to 172,427 in 2019, signifying an 81.6% increase, which greatly exceeds the 18.2% increase in all-cause mortality observed over the same time interval. Examination of age-specific mortality demonstrated that the number of aortic aneurysm deaths markedly correlated with advancing age. However, when considering rate of death rather than mortality count, overall age-standardized death rates decreased 18% from 2.72 per 100,000 in 1990 to 2.21 per 100,000 in 2019. Analysis of the specific risk factors associated with aneurysm death revealed that the percentage of deaths attributable to smoking decreased from 45.6% in 1990 to 34.6% in 2019, and deaths attributable to hypertension decreased from 38.7% to 34.7%. Globally, hypertension surpassed smoking as the leading risk factor. The reported rate of death was consistently greater as SDI increased, and this effect was most pronounced among low-middle and middle SDI regions (173.2% and 170.4%, respectively).

Conclusions: Despite an overall increase in the number of aneurysm deaths, there was a decrease in the age-standardized death rate, demonstrating that the observed increased number of aortic aneurysm deaths between 1990 and 2019 was primarily driven by an overall increase in the age of the global population. Fortunately, it appears that the increase in overall aneurysm-related deaths has been modulated by improved risk factor modification, in particular smoking. Given the rise in aneurysm-related deaths, global expansion of vascular specialty capabilities is warranted and will serve to amplify improvements in population-based aneurysm health achieved with risk factor control.

Keywords: Aortic aneurysm; High blood pressure; Public health; Smoking; Socioeconomic factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aortic Aneurysm* / mortality
  • Cause of Death
  • Female
  • Global Burden of Disease / trends
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / mortality
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult