3:23pm Monday 14th October 2013
MEN aged 65 who live in Vale of Glamorgan are being encouraged to take up the offer of a free NHS screening test which could save their life.
Launched in May 2013, the Wales Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Programme (WAAASP) offers men a quick, painless, one-off ultrasound scan to check for a condition that can be life-threatening, if left undetected.
Screening clinics are held regularly in locations across Wales, such as community hospitals, community health facilities and GP practices. In Vale of Glamorgan regular clinics are held in Cowbridge and Llandough.
An Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) can happen to anybody but it is most common in men aged 65 and over who smoke; have high blood pressure; high cholesterol or have a family history of AAA.
Men aged 65 will be invited for AAA screening if they live in Wales and are registered with a GP practice.
Men who are eligible to be screened will receive an invitation letter and information leaflet through the post, offering them an appointment at a local screening clinic. The letter will give details on where the clinic is being held.
The test measures the size of the abdominal aorta. The aorta is the main blood vessel that supplies blood to the body. Sometimes, as people grow older, the wall of the aorta in the abdomen can become weak, and stretch to form an aneurysm (a swelling). When this happens, there is a risk that the aorta may split or tear (rupture).
A ruptured AAA can lead to serious blood loss that will need immediate emergency treatment. Not every AAA will rupture, but if it does, the chances of getting to hospital and surviving surgery are very poor.
There are around 400 deaths a year in Wales from a ruptured AAA and the screening programme aims to reduce the number of ruptured AAA and deaths by half in the men invited for screening by 2025.
Llywela Wilson, Head of the Wales AAA Screening Programme commented: We would encourage all men who receive an appointment for AAA screening in Vale of Glamorgan to take up the offer for this quick, free and very important health check.
Men will be invited to a local clinic to have the ultrasound scan carried out by a qualified screener, and given the results straight away before they leave. Their GP will also be sent a written copy of the results. Men found to have a large AAA will be referred to the hospital specialist team to discuss treatment to repair it.
She added: The ultrasound scan itself takes just a few minutes of your time, but it really could help save your life. Around 95 out of 100 men screened will have a normal result, where no AAA is detected, and they will not need to be screened again.
Usually people cannot tell if they have an AAA as there are no signs or symptoms. The screening programme aims to reduce the risk of rupture through early detection, appropriate monitoring and treatment.
AAA is less common in women and the National Screening Committee does not recommend offering women screening for AAA.
Anyone (male or female) who is not in the screening age group and is concerned that they may have an AAA, or is worried about a family history should speak to their GP.
For further information, and for a list of clinic locations, visit the website: www.aaascreening.wales.nhs.uk or telephone 01443 235 161.
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