Medical management of small abdominal aortic aneurysms

B. Timothy Baxter, Michael C. Terrin, Ronald L. Dalman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

294 Scopus citations


Abdominal aortic aneurysm is a common condition that may be lethal when it is unrecognized. Current guidelines suggest repair as the aneurysm diameter reaches 5.0 to 5.5 cm. Most aortic aneurysms are detected incidentally when imaging is done for other purposes or through screening programs. Ninety percent of these aneurysms are below the threshold for intervention at the time of detection. A number of studies have sought to determine factors that lead to progression of aneurysmal disease that might be amenable to intervention during this period of observation. We review these studies and make recommendations for the medical management of small abdominal aortic aneurysms. On the basis of our current knowledge of the causes of aneurysm, a number of approaches have been proposed to prevent progression of aneurysmal disease. These include hemodynamic management, inhibition of inflammation, and protease inhibition. The American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association clinical practice guidelines rules of evidence have helped to define strength of evidence to support these approaches. Level A evidence (from large randomized trials) is available to indicate that observation of small aneurysms in men is safe up to a size of 5.5 cm and that propranolol does not inhibit aneurysm expansion. Level B evidence (from small randomized trials) suggests that roxithromycin or doxycycline will decrease the rate of aneurysm expansion. A number of studies agree that tobacco use is associated with an increased rate of aneurysm expansion. Level B and C evidence is available to suggest that 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins) may inhibit aneurysm expansion. There are animal data but no human data demonstrating that angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or losartan, an angiotensin receptor blocker, will decrease the rate of AAA expansion. A pharmacological agent without important side effects that inhibited aneurysm expansion could change current approaches to aneurysm treatment. Additional studies are needed to clarify the potential role of doxycycline, roxithromycin, and statin therapy in the progression of aneurysmal disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1883-1889
Number of pages7
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • Aneurysm
  • Antibiotics
  • Aorta
  • Pharmacology
  • Tetracycline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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