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Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust

Men over 65 urged to take up screening appointment

Men over the age of 65 are being urged to take up a free scan that can detect a swollen blood vessel which can be fatal if ruptured.

There are around 3,000 deaths each year in men aged 65 and over in England and Wales from a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). It’s a condition that affects the main blood vessel that runs from the heart down through the chest and abdomen. There are often no symptoms and no warning of a problem until an aneurysm bursts.

Since April 2012 all 65-year-old men registered with a Northamptonshire GP have been invited to the county’s screening programme for AAAs. 

Around one in 70 men aged 65 in England has an AAA (an aorta measuring more than 3cm).  This swelling is far more common in men aged over 65 than it is in women and younger men, so men are invited for screening in the year they turn 65.

Local programme screening manager Nicola Bennison said: “Men who have an AAA will not generally notice any symptoms, which is why screening is so important. It is a very simple, non-invasive ultrasound scan over the abdomen, which can be carried out at your local GP surgery or a main central clinic. The scan shows a picture of the aorta on a screen which we measure. The appointment takes around 10 minutes and you get the results straight after the scan.”

Men over 65 who have never been invited for screening can refer themselves directly for a scan by contacting the team at Northampton General Hospital on 01604 523276 or email 

The aim of the programme is to reduce deaths from the condition by up to 50 per cent by detecting aneurysms early and offering monitoring or treatment depending on the size of the aneurysm.  

Most men have a normal result and no further action is needed. If a small/medium aneurysm is found, meaning that the aorta is a little wider than normal, you would be invited back for regular scans to check whether it is getting any bigger. If a large aneurysm is found, you would be given an appointment with the vascular specialist team at Northampton General Hospital to have more tests and to talk about possible treatment, usually an operation.


Notes to editors

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a serious vascular condition. The aorta is the body’s largest artery carrying blood to all vital organs. Aortic aneurysms are caused by a progressive weakening of the aortic wall which results in a dilation or “ballooning” of the vessel. The aneurysm will grow progressively larger and eventually may rupture if it is not diagnosed and treated.

Sometimes, the operation to repair the damage has to be carried out by traditional open surgery. Nowadays more repairs are carried out by a ‘keyhole’ procedure known as endovascular aneurysm repair, or EVAR. 

Posted on Sunday 19th April 2015
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