Health & Wellness

Smoking Doubles Aneurysm Risk

By Wendy Haaf

Here’s another really good reason to quit.

Smokers have a 1 in 9 chance of developing a potentially life-threatening condition called abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), compared with an overall risk rate of 1 in 17. The statistic was derived from the results of a 2016 study of middle-aged subjects at general risk for developing the condition. The report appeared in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology , a journal published for the American Heart Association. Quitting smoking reduces the risk to about 1 in 12.

AAA—which typically doesn’t cause symptoms—occurs when the artery feeding the pelvis and lower body thins out and begins to balloon. If the bulge grows large enough, the artery can rupture—the odds of survival are about 1 in 5.

The Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery recommends that all men aged 65 to 75 undergo a one-time screening ultrasound for AAA, with selective screening for other high-risk people, including women 65 or older with multiple risk factors such as a history of smoking.

If the condition is detected, AAA can be monitored; if necessary, the weakened part of the artery can be repaired using a synthetic graft.