An AAA is a swelling of the main blood vessel in the body, the aorta, which can weaken and expand and is most common in men aged 65 and above. There are usually no symptoms and if left untreated the aneurysm can rupture and cause internal bleeding often with fatal consequences. Screening involves a simple ultrasound scan which looks for weaknesses and enlargements of the aorta.
Paul Scholey, from Sheffield, received his invitation in the post in February, just before he turned 65. He hadn’t heard of ‘AAA’, but after reading the information leaflet which accompanied his letter he decided to attend, even though he felt fit and well. Paul chose to have screening at a local GP Practice and was shocked to be told at his appointment he had a large aneurysm and was urgently referred to Northern General Hospital.
Paul takes up the story: “I felt fit and well prior to my scan so when I was told I had a large aneurysm measuring 9.1cm it was a real shock. If I had ignored my invite and the aneurysm had burst I dread to think what would have happened. I had surgery within the week – I feel really lucky and urge other men not to ignore their invitation.”
The national NHS Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Programme invites all men in their 65th year to attend AAA screening which is a quick and painless ultrasound scan which only takes a few minutes.
Babatunde Fakolade, South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw AAA Screening Programme Manager, said: “The screening programme aims to reduce this risk by providing men with a simple, painless ultrasound scan that will detect whether there is an AAA. The scan only takes a few minutes and saves lives.
“We would encourage all men who receive an appointment for AAA screening to take up the offer for this quick, free and very important scan. There are no signs and symptoms of having an AAA so most men with one will know nothing about it until it ruptures, which can cause life threatening bleeding.”
Although AAA can happen to anyone, there are steps that people can take to reduce their risk of developing an AAA. These include giving up smoking, eating a healthy balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight and taking regular exercise. You are also at a higher risk of an AAA if a close family member has been diagnosed as having an AAA.
If you are male aged 65 or over and have not had AAA screening, please contact the team on Tel: 01709 649100. There are 36 locations across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, for more info go to: aaadbh.nhs.uk.