Simple scan set to save lives across the Borders
Graham Ford • Published 10 Sep 2012 10:34
A simple scan to detect a condition that affects one in 20 men aged 65 across the Borders is now being offered by NHS Borders.
Men aged 65 are being invited to attend a screening appointment to receive an ultrasound scan which can detect abdominal aortic aneurysms, a condition that can affect the main artery in the abdomen (tummy).
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: "Abdominal aortic aneurysms are a hidden killer which affects one in 20 men in Scotland, most of whom will be unaware that they have the condition. Sadly, the first sign of a problem for many men will be when the aneurysm ruptures and, by that time, it's often too late - if left unscreened, more than 8 in 10 ruptures can prove fatal.
"But a simple 10 minute scan can detect the aneurysm, enabling treatment to begin and saving hundreds of lives each year. Dealing with potential illness as soon as possible not only means that lives are saved, it also means an efficient NHS."
Mr Hector Campbell, Clinical Director of Scotland's Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Programme, said: "This programme is being rolled out across Scotland and will offer 65 year-old men the opportunity to attend a one-off scan which will determine whether they have a potentially life threatening abdominal aortic aneurysm or not. Identification of this disease will mean that they can be monitored and referred to treatment services at the right time. Men should carefully read all of the information included within their invite letter to attend abdominal aortic aneurysm screening so that they can make a fully informed choice about participating in this programme."
Dr Tim Patterson, Consultant in Public Health, said "This programme has the potential to save many lives, as the condition usually goes undetected until it is too late."
"An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a weakening in the wall of the aorta, the main blood vessel which takes blood from the heart to the rest of the body. If the wall ruptures, it is usually very sudden and if you do get to hospital in time, it will be very hard to repair."
"The aneurysm can take many years to develop and without the scan, you probably won't know if you have it until it is too late, but if it is found early on, it can be treated."
"I would encourage every man over 65 to take advantage of the screening. It is a very simple test for a very deadly condition."
An abdominal aortic aneurysm forms when the aorta, the main artery that supplies blood to the body from the heart down through the chest and abdomen, becomes weak and balloons out.
An ultrasound scan is a simple, painless test that can detect an aneurysm, with results made available instantly after the scan.
NHS Borders will post letters to men aged 65, inviting them to attend screening as part of Scotland's Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Programme, the first male-only national screening programme.
If the scan is normal men will then exit the screening programme - as the chance of a man developing an aneurysm following screening is extremely low.
If a small or medium aneurysm is found, regular scans will be offered to monitor the size. If a larger aneurysm is found, a referral will be made to vascular services.
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