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Smoking, sex, risk factors and abdominal aortic aneurysms: a prospective study of 18 782 persons aged above 65 years in the Southern Community Cohort Study


Background Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a leading cause of death in the USA. We evaluated the incidence and predictors of AAA in a prospectively followed cohort.

Methods We calculated age-adjusted AAA incidence rates (IR) among 18 782 participants aged ≥65 years in the Southern Community Cohort Study who received Medicare coverage from 1999–2012, and assessed predictors of AAA using multivariable Cox proportional hazards models, overall and stratified by sex, adjusting for demographic, lifestyle, socioeconomic, medical and other factors. HRs and 95% CIs were calculated for AAA in relation to factors ascertained at enrolment.

Results Over a median follow-up of 4.94 years, 281 cases were identified. Annual IR was 153/100 000, 401, 354 and 174 among blacks, whites, men and women, respectively. AAA risk was lower among women (HR 0.48, 95% CI 0.36 to 0.65) and blacks (HR 0.51, 95% CI 0.37 to 0.69). Smoking was the strongest risk factor (former: HR 1.91, 95% CI 1.27 to 2.87; current: HR 5.55, 95% CI 3.67 to 8.40), and pronounced in women (former: HR 3.4, 95% CI 1.83 to 6.31; current: HR 9.17, 95% CI 4.95 to 17). A history of hypertension (HR 1.44, 95% CI 1.04 to 2.01) and myocardial infarction or coronary artery bypass surgery (HR 1.9, 95% CI 1.37 to 2.63) was negatively associated, whereas a body mass index ≥25 kg/m2 (HR 0.72; 95% CI 0.53 to 0.98) was protective. College education (HR 0.6, 95% CI 0.37 to 0.97) and black race (HR 0.44, 95% CI 0.28 to 0.67) were protective among men.

Conclusions Smoking is a major risk factor for incident AAA, with a strong and similar association between men and women. Further studies are needed to evaluate benefits of ultrasound screening for AAA among women smokers.

  • Epidemiology of cardiovascular disease

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