• Patients living in socioeconomically deprived areas who were admitted with abdominal aortic aneurysm were more likely to die in hospital without having surgery for the aneurysm
  • In patients from deprived areas who did have surgery for the aneurysm, this was more likely to be done as an emergency rather than as a planned operation
  • The death rate after aneurysm surgery was higher in patients from deprived areas 

Newswise — A new study from the University of Sheffield has found clear evidence of socioeconomic disparities in operation rates and survival after surgery for dangerous abdominal aortic aneurysm.

The study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), found that amongst admitted patients, men from more deprived areas were more likely to die in hospital without having their aneurysm repaired than men from less deprived areas. 

Amongst men who had aneurysm surgery, this was more likely to be for a ruptured aneurysm in men from more deprived compared with less deprived areas.

In men who had had a repair for an aneurysm that had not ruptured, those from more deprived areas were more likely to have this carried out as an emergency procedure than men from less deprived areas.

Additionally, the research highlighted that the death rate following surgery was higher in men from more deprived areas, although the magnitude of the increased risk diminished with increasing age.

In women, the association between socioeconomic deprivation and survival following surgery was less clear. 

The aorta is the main blood vessel that carries blood from the heart through the chest and abdomen. An aneurysm is a bulge in a blood vessel. In the aorta, this typically occurs in the abdomen. If the aneurysm ruptures (bursts), life-threatening bleeding occurs with a serious risk of death. Larger aneurysms are more likely to rupture and surgery can be carried out to repair the aneurysm. Surgery is much better done as a planned procedure rather than as an emergency.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm is more common in men and in older age, and it is more common in people living in socioeconomically deprived areas.

Professor Ravi Maheswaran, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research led the study. 

He said: “The disparities that we have found are clearly unacceptable. There is a national NHS screening programme which offers screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm to all men when they turn 65 but uptake is lower in more deprived areas.

“We know that this could lead to men living in deprived areas having later diagnosis, greater risk of emergency surgery and poorer outcomes, including death.” 

The Sheffield study was conducted by researchers from the University’s School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR). Additionally, it found that planned surgery rates (calculated as a rate for the population) were higher in middle-aged men living in deprived areas, as expected. However, planned surgery rates were lower in older men in more deprived areas. Instead, there were higher emergency surgery rates, including surgery for ruptured aneurysm, in more deprived areas.

Professor Jonathan Michaels, Honorary Professor of Clinical Decision Science at the University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research, was co-investigator on the study. 

He said: “Interventions that can increase the uptake of aneurysm screening in socioeconomically deprived areas should lead to finding and surgically treating more men with aneurysms in these areas.

“Earlier identification of men with aneurysms should also help men who would benefit from lifestyle changes. This could include stopping smoking, eating healthily, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight which will help to reduce operative risks and cardiovascular mortality.” 

To view the full study please visit: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjs/znac222 

To find out more about the University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), please visit: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/scharr  



The University of Sheffield   

With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities. 

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. 

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in. 

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2018 and for the last eight years has been ranked in the top five UK universities for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education. 

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields. 

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations. 


The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation's largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR: 

  • Funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care 
  • Engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research 
  • Attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future 
  • Invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services 
  • Partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy 

The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR commissions applied health research to benefit the poorest people in low- and middle-income countries, using Official Development Assistance funding.

This work uses data provided by patients and collected by the NHS as part of their care and support and would not have been possible without access to this data. The NIHR recognises and values the role of patient data, securely accessed and stored, both in underpinning and leading to improvements in research and care. www.nihr.ac.uk/patientdata

Journal Link: British Journal of Surgery