Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening available for men aged 65+ years

The Health and Social Care Portfolio would like to inform all men aged 65 years and over that Health Services will be offering screening for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAA) commencing from November 2022.

AAA screening is a way of checking if there’s a bulge or swelling in the aorta. The aorta is the main blood vessel that runs from your heart down through your abdomen (stomach). This bulge or swelling is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm, or AAA which can be serious if not spotted early on because it could get bigger and eventually burst (rupture). 

Screening for AAA is normally offered to men during the year they turn 65, as men aged 65 or over are most at risk of getting AAAs. Screening can help diagnose AAA early on and catch it at a time when it can usually be treated.

Persons who are not usually offered AAA screening:

  • Women
  • Men under 65
  • People who have already been treated for an AAA

The reason those listed above are not offered screening is because the risk of getting an AAA is much smaller in these groups.

Why it is beneficial to be screened for AAA?

An AAA will often cause few or no obvious symptoms, but if it’s left untreated it could become bigger, ultimately meaning it could burst and cause life-threatening internal bleeding. This is very serious. Of those that suffer an AAA burst, about 8 in every 10 people do not survive either the initial burst or the resulting emergency surgery to try to repair it. 

Screening can pick up an AAA before it bursts. If an AAA is found, you can choose to have regular scans to monitor it or planned surgery to stop it bursting.

What happens during an AAA screening?

The screening test is a very quick and painless ultrasound scan of your abdomen, similar to the scan carried out on pregnant women.

The whole test usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Sometimes the technician might not be able to see your aorta clearly. This is not anything to worry about if this happens, you’ll be asked to have another scan, usually on a different day.

How will you receive the results of your AAA screening?

Persons will be given their result at the end of the test. If a problem is found, a letter will be sent to the persons confirming the result and letting them know what would be the next steps for them. 

What do you need to do?

Eligible persons are advised that they do not need to contact the hospital themselves. When it is their turn to be screened, the Health Service will be in contact to offer or arrange an appointment.

Staff will be starting with those persons who were born in in the year 1957 and then move backwards to those born in 1956, then 1955, etc.

From January 2023 Health Services will also be offering scans to those who reach their 65th birthday in 2023 (i.e. those born in 1958).

SHG

16 November 2022

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470
Email: kimberley.peters@sainthelena.gov.sh