Lifetime Risk and Risk Factors for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm in a 24-Year Prospective Study: The ARIC Study (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities)

Weihong Tang, Lu Yao, Nicholas S. Roetker, Alvaro Alonso, Pamela L. Lutsey, Carol C. Steenson, Frank A. Lederle, David W. Hunter, Lindsay G S Bengtson, Weihua Guan, Emil Missov, Aaron R. Folsom

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99 Scopus citations


Objective - Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is an important vascular disease in older adults, but data on lifetime risk of AAA are sparse. We examined lifetime risk of AAA in a community-based cohort and prospectively assessed the association between midlife cardiovascular risk factors and AAAs. Approach and Results - In ARIC study (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities), 15 792 participants were recruited at visit 1 in 1987 to 1989 and followed up through 2013. Longitudinal smoking status was defined using smoking behavior ascertained from visit 1 (1987-1989) to visit 4 (1996-1998). We followed up participants for incident, clinical AAAs using hospital discharge diagnoses, Medicare outpatient diagnoses, or death certificates through 2011 and identified 590 incident AAAs. An abdominal ultrasound was conducted in 2011 to 2013 in 5911 surviving participants, and 75 asymptomatic AAAs were identified. We estimated the lifetime risk of AAA from the index age 45 years through 85 years of age. At age 45, the lifetime risk for AAA was 5.6% (95% confidence interval, 4.8-6.1) and was higher in men (8.2%) and current smokers (10.5%). Smokers who quit smoking between visit 1 and visit 4 had a 29% lower AAA lifetime risk compared with continuous smokers but had a higher risk than pre-visit 1 quitters. The lifetime risk of rupture or medical intervention was 1.6% (95% confidence interval, 1.2-1.8). Smoking, white race, male sex, greater height, and greater low-density lipoprotein or total cholesterol were associated with an increased risk of clinical AAA and asymptomatic AAA. Conclusions - At least 1 in 9 middle-aged current smokers developed AAA in their lifetime. Smoking cessation reduced the lifetime risk of AAA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2468-2477
Number of pages10
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Heart Association, Inc.


  • abdominal aortic aneurysm
  • atherosclerosis
  • cholesterol
  • risk factor
  • smoking


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