Doctors' appeal to men

By in Health

DOCTORS are reminding men in Somerset and North Devon to attend an appointment for a free abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) check that could save their life.

The AAA service provided at GP practices across the region this month screened its 30,000th patient since it started running in February 2011. The programme has the highest uptake in the whole country.

During this time, 85 patients have been referred through the service for life-saving vascular surgery and over 300 patients are being actively monitored by the programme.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an enlarged area in the lower part of the aorta, the major blood vessel that supplies blood to the body.

The service covers the whole of Somerset and North Devon and is open to all men over 65.

It involves a simple ultrasound that usually takes less than ten minutes with the results available straight away for the patient and his GP.

The team of clinical screening technicians based at Musgrove Park Hospital visit local GP surgeries so patients are able to access the service close to their own home.

An AAA can occur if the main blood vessel that supplies blood to the body gets weak and starts to expand. If untreated, it can become very serious and even cause internal bleeding.

Most people will not feel any pain or symptoms so it is important that they get screened even if they do not feel unwell.

Dr Harry Smallwood, a GP at Taunton Road Medical Centre in Bridgwater, said: “Having the AAA screening service at our GP practice has been very valuable to our patients as they are able to attend their screening appointments closer to home.

“The service has successfully identified patients with an AAA who have been referred to the vascular team for ongoing management.”

Men aged over 65 who would like to discuss screening or book an appointment should call 01823 344 567.

The 30,000th patient to be screened, Robert Elston, is pictured with, from the left, Dr Smallwood, reception team leader Hazel Priest and screening technician at Musgrove Park, Maureen Peddie.