25 years of life-saving screening in Gloucestershire

A pioneering Gloucestershire-based screening programme that is preventing hundreds of premature deaths is celebrating its 25th anniversary on Wednesday 16th September 2015 at the Lecture Theatre in Redwood Education Centre at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital from 5.30pm.

The Gloucestershire & Swindon Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening Programme has been screening men aged 65 and over for a potentially fatal expansion and weakening of the main blood vessel in the body in Gloucestershire since 1990. In July 2012, the Programme expanded to include men in Swindon. 

Since its inception, the Gloucestershire service has invited more than 100,000 65-year-old men for screening and referred more than 1,300 men for surgery to repair their aneurysms. 

Former patients will join AAA screening staff for the Anniversary Celebrations. 

Local and national programme director Jonothan Earnshaw, who is a Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust vascular surgeon says the success of the programme over the years has been recognised nationally: 

“The experience and evidence of the county team played a major role in the Government’s decision to roll out AAA screening nationwide from 2009. And more than 1 million 65-year-old men in England have now been screened, reducing the number of premature deaths through early identification, appropriate monitoring and treatment”.

Abdominal aortic aneurysms are formed when the main blood vessel in the body weakens and expands. Nationally, around 5,000 people, most of them older men, die every year after large aneurysms burst.

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, invites men for screening during the year they turn 65.

Large abdominal aortic aneurysms, also known as AAAs or ‘triple As’, can be very dangerous because they can burst – a medical emergency that is usually fatal. Men are six times more likely than women to develop an AAA, which is why only men are screened.

The risk of having an AAA is higher if you:

  • Smoke or have ever smoked
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have a close relative (parent or sibling) who has or has had an AAA