Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening: HIQA Publishes Protocol for Assessing National Program for Irish Men

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The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has taken a significant step towards enhancing men’s health in Ireland by publishing a protocol for a health technology assessment (HTA) of screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) in men. This initiative aims to evaluate the potential implementation of a national screening program for this serious condition.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm represents a critical health risk characterized by an enlargement of the aorta, the primary artery carrying blood from the heart through the chest and abdomen. This condition often goes unnoticed without symptoms, yet it poses a severe threat; aneurysms can rupture if not identified and treated early, leading to a high fatality rate. The importance of early detection cannot be overstated, as about 80% of those with a ruptured AAA do not survive long enough to receive hospital treatment or succumb during emergency surgery.

HIQA Evaluates Feasibility of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening for At-Risk Men in Ireland

In October 2022, the National Screening Advisory Committee (NSAC) tasked HIQA with assessing the feasibility of a population-based screening for AAA among men. This demographic is particularly at risk; studies have shown that men over 65 years of age are three to six times more likely to develop abdominal aortic aneurysm compared to women of the same age group. Recognizing this disparity, HIQA’s assessment focuses on providing evidence-based advice to NSAC, supporting the decision on whether to introduce a specialized abdominal aortic aneurysm screening program for men in Ireland.

Dr. Máirín Ryan, HIQA’s Deputy CEO and Director of Health Technology Assessment emphasized the potential benefits of such a program: “Screening programs can offer considerable benefits by identifying conditions before symptoms begin, enabling earlier access to treatment. However, a decision to screen for a condition should always be considered carefully and be based on the best available evidence.”

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

HIQA to Assess Impact of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Program for Irish Men

HIQA’s assessment will thoroughly examine the clinical effectiveness and safety of abdominal aortic aneurysm screening. It will also evaluate the cost-effectiveness and budget impact of implementing such a program, alongside considering the ethical, social, and organizational implications. This comprehensive approach ensures that all facets of introducing a screening program are carefully analyzed, providing a robust foundation for policy decisions.

The findings from this HTA will be crucial in shaping NSAC’s recommendation to the Minister for Health regarding the potential introduction of a national abdominal aortic aneurysm screening program for men. The full health technology assessment report is slated for publication in 2025, which will include detailed analyses and final recommendations.


Resource: Health Information and Quality Authority, May 16, 2024

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