Life-saving screening programme is rolled out in Swindon

20/08/12

Men aged 65 and over in Swindon now benefit from a new national screening programme for a potentially fatal condition which affects the main blood vessel in the body.

The NHS Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Programme has been provided by Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for men in Gloucestershire since 2009. Now, the Gloucestershire Trust has started to deliver the service in Swindon and surrounding areas as well.

About 1 in 25 men aged between 65 and have an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). AAAs are caused when the main blood vessel in the abdomen – the aorta – weakens and starts to expand.

Large aneurysms can be very serious because as the wall of the aorta stretches it becomes weaker and can burst. If this happens, the person usually dies. There are around 6,000 deaths every year in England and Wales, most of them men aged 65 and over.  The NHS AAA Screening Programme aims to reduce AAA-related deaths amongst men aged 65 to 74  by up to 50 per cent through early detection, appropriate monitoring and treatment, usually surgery.

The main risk factors for AAA are age and being male. Screening invitations are therefore now being sent to men in Swindon during the year they turn 65 while men over 65 can self-refer for screening by contacting the Gloucestershire and Swindon AAA Screening Programme direct. 

Jonothan Earnshaw, Gloucestershire Hospitals Consultant Vascular Surgeon and the National Director of the NHS AAA Screening Programme, said: “The screening test itself is a simple, pain-free ultrasound scan that usually takes less than 10 minutes. Men who have an abdominal aortic aneurysm will not generally notice any symptoms, which is why screening is so important.

“Early detection through screening enables us to offer monitoring or treatment, reducing the number of deaths from the condition. We are therefore delighted that we can now offer this service to men aged 65 and over in Swindon.”

Following the simple ultrasound scan, screened men  receive their results immediately and are given advice about  ongoing care if required.

Director of Public Health, Jose Ortega said:   “We are pleased to be rolling out the AAA screening programme in Swindon.  It is a simple, effective screening programme which can prevent early deaths in men and help reduce inequalities.  The Gloucestershire NHS Foundation Trust has a great deal of experience and expertise in AAA screening and we are delighted that they will be providing this service in Swindon.”

 The Gloucestershire and Swindon AAA Screening Programme can be contacted on 01452 318836. For more information about the NHS AAA Screening Programme, visit http://aaa.screening.nhs.uk.

Factfile:

  • The main risk factors are age and being male; 95% of ruptured AAA occurs in men over 65
  • The condition is six times more common in men than women
  • Risk is increased by smoking, high blood pressure or through close family history