University of Kentucky Gill Heart researchers study abdominal aortic aneurysms

As the baby boomer generation races toward Medicare eligibility, a new screening procedure could mean that many men in the United States may soon learn that they have a killer condition they can do little or nothing about.

Anticipating a surge in diagnosed cases of abdominal aortic aneurysm, a condition for which Medicare just approved a one-time free screening for men, University of Kentucky researchers are working with $8.5 million in NIH funding to understand the condition and how it can be treated.

"In collaborative studies with Lisa Cassis, professor and director of the UK Graduate Center for Nutritional Sciences, we serendipitously developed an animal model of abdominal aneurysms that is not used in many laboratories, This model has provided us with way of defining the mechanisms that initiate and propagate this devastating disease," said Alan Daugherty, Director, UK Cardiovascular Research Center.

In the United States there are currently 78.8 million baby boomers people born between 1946 and 1964. More than half of baby boomers will be age 50 or older by next May, and this January will mark the 60th birthdays of the oldest boomers, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data by American Demographics.

Abdominal aneurysm currently ranks as the 10th leading killer in the United States; although scientists suspect that the incidence may be even higher as the disease is only detected upon autopsy, and autopsies are not always performed in the deaths of older people. The condition primarily affects men over age 55, so the Medicare-covered screening will only be for men. Currently, if a screening detects an abdominal aneurysm, patients face an expensive and unsure course of surgical of treatment. The aneurysm must be monitored, and physicians must use their best judgment to decide when and if surgery is warranted. Open surgery is a long term fix for this disease, but is associated with risks and long recovery times. More rece

Contact: Allison Elliott
University of Kentucky

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