In 2009 a nation-wide programme launched to detect Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAA) in men 65 and over. In the UK more than a million men have been screened. In the last year, 6641 men from South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw region were screened with 94 aneurysms detected during that time. 11 men were referred for vascular surgery.
An AAA is a swelling of the main blood vessel in the body, the aorta, which weakens and expands. There are no symptoms and if left untreated the swelling can lead to a rupture and a serious risk of death from internal bleeding.
Roger Pidcock, aged 66 from Arbourthorne, Sheffield, is one local man who has benefited from the screening programme. He attended his routine AAA screening appointment shortly after retiring in 2014. Working for more than 7 years as a taxi driver, Roger described himself to feel in full health before the appointment and was shocked to hear that a large aneurysm had been detected requiring lifesaving surgery.
Roger said: “I am unbelievably grateful – I had no symptoms at all and if I had not been screened, it’s hard to say for sure, but I might not have been here today.
“The funny thing is I am not usually interested in invitations to appointments to do with my health however, as the letter said that the appointment would only take 10 minutes and I didn’t have to go in to the hospital as it was at Dovercourt Surgery, so very close to where I live, I luckily decided to go. It was there and then that the screening technician found an aneurysm larger than 5.5cm.”
Roger was promptly referred to his local Vascular team at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital and shortly after underwent surgery to have his aorta repaired.
After his successful surgery Roger has fully recovered and as a keen golfer is looking forward to a golfing holiday abroad. He said: “I feel very lucky myself and think it is so important that other men like me make sure they go to their screening appointments”.
Helen McAlinney, AAA Screening Programme Coordinator for South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw said: “Roger’s story is the perfect example of why the NHS is running the AAA screening programme – it is crucial in detecting and treating large aneurysm which can be potentially fatal.
“We urge all men aged 65 and upwards to contact us to make an appointment. We have over 35 clinics over South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw and the scan is quick, painless and non-invasive.”
Men in their 65th year are automatically invited by post to attend a screening clinic but men over 65 who have not previously been screened can make an appointment by contacting the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw AAA Screening Programme on 01709 649100 or by emailing email@example.com.