MINNEAPOLIS - A medical breakthrough at the University of Minnesota could be a game changer.

Researchers have developed a screening that spots aneurysms in men and it's already helping save lives.

Stuart Harder says the AAA Screening Program at the University of Minnesota caught his aneurysm before it was too late.

The screening helps identify patients that are at most risk of having an aneurysm. Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a vascular disease found in adults.

Last November, Harder says his doctor discovered he had had an aortic aneurysm in his stomach.

“For me it was a little unusual because I didn’t have any symptoms,” he said. “It would’ve cost me my life.”

And that’s normal, people don’t always have symptoms.

The condition involves the enlargement of the aorta, the main blood vessel delivering blood throughout the body. But doctors caught his aneurysm thanks to a relatively new project at the University of Minnesota: the AAA Screening Program. It helps identify patients that are at most risk of having an aneurysm.

Dr. Rumi Faizer, the Chief of Vascular Surgery, said more than 1,500 patients have been screened and 29 aneurysms have been found with annual ultrasounds. Stuart is the first patient that needed surgery.

“So aortic screening has been heavily studied and has been shown to be one of the things we can do to save lives,” Dr. Faizer said. “We’ve developed a system to identify who needs to be screened and then we are trying to work on new ways to do that screening.”

Harder, who has two grandchildren, said because the screening caught his condition, he has more time with his family.

“Grateful is the word. Getting a chance to live a little longer than you might otherwise have to do things that you were hoping to be able to do,” he said.