Appointments Offered for AAA Screening

Men across Forth Valley are to be offered a new scan which could help save their lives thanks to the introduction of the first male-only national screening programme.

The first appointment letters inviting men aged 65 to be scanned for an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAA) will be sent out at the beginning of October 2013. Weekly screening clinics will be held at community hospitals in Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire from the end of October 2013 and all men aged 65 across Forth Valley will be offered appointments at their local hospital over the next year as part of a rolling national programme.

An Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm forms when the aorta, the main artery that supplies blood to the body from the heart, becomes weak and balloons out. As the wall of the aorta stretches, it becomes weaker, and it could rupture. If the aneurysm ruptures, this leads to life-threatening internal bleeding and, in 8 out of 10 cases, can prove fatal. Small or medium aneurysms rarely cause trouble, however, it is still important to identify them so that they can be monitored incase they grow bigger.

It is estimated that about one in 20 men in Scotland have an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm, most of who are unaware that they have the condition as many only experience pain when the aneurysm ruptures. Dr Oliver Harding, NHS Forth Valley Consultant in Public Health Medicine, said:

 This simple, painless test is done using an ultrasound scan which is the same method used to examine pregnant women. It only takes 10 minutes and the results are available instantly after the scan.”

Around 95% of men are expected to have a normal scan and will exit the screening programme. This is because the chance of a normal aorta developing an aneurysm is extremely rare. If a small or medium aneurysm is found, regular scans will be offered to monitor its size. Anyone found to have a large aneurysm will be referred for surgical treatment. Younger men are not considered to be at risk of an aneurysm so they are not included in the national screening programme.

Men aged over 65 who have never been for AAA screening can refer themselves for a screening appointment by contacting NHS inform on 0800 22 44 88. Around 1400 men are expected to attend for AAA screening in Forth Valley each year.

For further information visit or call the NHS inform helpline on 0800 22 44 88.