Thousands of men across East Sussex are missing out on a potentially life-saving screening.
Around 5,000 people, most of them older men, die in England and Wales every year from abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs), which are formed when the main blood vessel in the body weakens and expands.
An AAA usually causes no symptoms but, if it bursts, is extremely dangerous and usually fatal.
Around 8 out of 10 people with a ruptured AAA either die before they reach hospital or don’t survive surgery.
The Sussex Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening Programme, provided by Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust (SCFT), is encouraging men aged 65 and over to seriously consider the offer of AAA screening.
The programme invites men for screening during the year they turn 65 while men aged over 65 who have not previously been screened can arrange an appointment by contacting the service directly.
Screening aims to reduce preventable deaths by detecting aneurysms early when they can be treated effectively. The screening test involves a simple ultrasound scan which takes about 10-15 minutes.
Men who have an aneurysm identified by screening are monitored in the community until the aneurysm reaches 5.5cm in diameter. They are then referred to a surgeon for potential treatment.
Bob Marson, from Sussex, underwent surgery to repair an aneurysm detected by screening in December 2014 and is a strong supporter of the programme.
He said: “Without the availability of the NHS screening programme, the likelihood of me still being alive to tell the tale would be very unlikely. The advice I would give any man would be not to ignore the offer of an AAA screen.”
Mr Mahmoud Salman, Consultant Vascular Surgeon and director of the Sussex AAA Screening Programme, said: “Our main concern is those people who are not attending appear to be registered to GPs located in higher deprivation areas and data shows that there is an increased likelihood of detecting an aneurysm in this population.
“Since April 2018, 27 men have been referred to the Vascular Team having met the threshold for Vascular intervention. This is 27 men who may have died of an undetected AAA had they not attended for screening. We would encourage all of those eligible to seriously consider attending their appointment to reduce avoidable deaths from ruptured AAAs.”
The programme runs screening clinics across Sussex and NHS staff can help in rearranging appointments or helping with any queries.
For any queries regarding the AAA Screening Programme or for any information regarding an AAA visit www.nhs.uk/aaa or call the AAA screening office on 01903 843834.