GPs in the borough of Walsall are urging men of 65 years and over to take up free screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAA or triple A). (Younger men and women do not need to be screened as the risk of aortic aneurysm in these groups is extremely low.) Since the AAA programme was introduced in the Black Country in 2013, over 14,000 men have already been successfully screened with over 200 aneurysms detected and 52 men undergoing life-saving surgery.
Whilst these current screening numbers represent an 80% take up, there is still room for improvement. If you are invited to a screening at a local GP surgery or hospital please attend – as it could save your life.
The aorta is the main blood vessel that supplies blood to your body and an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm is when the abdominal aorta swells to an abnormal size. An AAA can be dangerous if it isn’t spotted early on, as it can get bigger over time and rupture – causing life threatening bleeding. If an abdominal aorta is detected with screening it can be monitored regularly and, if necessary, treated with surgery. Screening clinics are held in GP practices and community hospitals, usually within only 3 miles of your home address. You’ll be given a quick and pain free abdominal ultrasound scan to measure your aorta. This is a non-invasive procedure and your results are usually given to you at your appointment.
Keith Morgan aged 67 recently took part in the Black Country AAA screening programme at his local health centre. He said; “Before my letter arrived inviting me for a screening, I had no idea what an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm was. I did a bit of research and just thought it was common sense to get tested. I reckon some men in my age group are not always very health aware, but my view would be don’t take a chance on a problem getting bigger. Take control – you won’t know if there’s an issue, unless you get yourself checked. And putting it straight- your health is your life. I had a simple ultrasound and quite quickly the clinic staff said that they’d detected I had a small aneurysm. I wasn’t sure what this would mean, but I was soon reassured that the AAA Screening team would keep an eye on me. Because mine is small there is no need for surgery yet but I will have a yearly check.”
Councillor Ian Robertson, Portfolio Holder for Public Health added: “Screening only takes a few minutes, I volunteered for an early screen as two of my colleagues died suddenly because of undiagnosed aortic aneurysms. Get yourself checked, it saves lives and can give you peace of mind.”