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A Triple A Check Can Save Lives

March 05, 2013 12:22 PM

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A new national screening programme which will save the lives of up to 170 men each year is now rolling out across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. 

The first male-only screening programme launched this month in Glasgow for men over the age of 65 who will be invited for abdominal aortic aneurysm screening (AAA) or Triple A, using ultrasound to detect a condition that can affect the main artery in the abdomen.

The condition affects one in 20 men, many of whom are completely unaware there is anything wrong.  Sadly, often the first sign there is a problem is when the aneurysm ruptures with eight out of 10 ruptures causing death.

NHSGGC consultant vascular surgeon Wesley Stuart explained:  “The aorta is the main artery which carries blood to the various parts of your body.  It runs from your heart through your chest and abdomen. As we get older parts of the wall of the aorta can become weaker and balloon out to form a swelling called an aneurysm.  This condition is fairly rare, but it occurs most commonly in the portion of the aorta found in the abdomen.

“A simple 10 minute scan can detect this problem and the results are immediately available. If your scan is normal, the chances of an aneurysm occurring later are extremely low so you will not need to be invited again for another scan and the screening programme has done its job.

“If a small or medium-sized aneurysm is found, we will give you regular scans to watch for any growth, and if the screening scan picks up a larger aneurysm then you will be referred to vascular services.”

NHSGGC will be sending letters to men aged 65 to invite them to attend screening in their local area.

One of the first Glasgow men to undergo the screening was Mr Ronald Leith, aged 65, from the south side of Glasgow.  He described the experience as “completely painless and all over in a few minutes”. 

Mr Leith said:  “I didn’t know anything about Triple A but I got my invite and went along and was in and out in 10 minutes.  Everything was OK so that was good.  I like to think I do look after myself but it’s reassuring to know that I don’t have anything to worry about so I’d say to anybody, just go and get it done.”

Cabinet Secretary for Health Alex Neil 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.
"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.”

Notes to editors

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 men can be monitored and referred to treatment services at the right time.

For more information contact the press office, tel:  0141 201 4429 or email:  [email protected]

Illustration courtesy of the NHS Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Programme (England).


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Last Updated: 11 November 2021