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Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening – a free NHS test for men aged 65 and over

Date: 31 August 2022

There is a national screening programme for men in the UK in the year they turn 65: Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening. It’s a simple ultrasound scan which looks at the abdominal aorta (the largest artery in the body). During the screening, we’re looking for any enlargement of the artery wall, which is called an aneurysm. This simple scan could save your life.

The aorta is the main artery which carries blood away from the heart, down through the abdomen to the legs. A bulge or swelling (aneurysm) of the aorta can be dangerous if it is not spotted early on as it can get bigger over time and could rupture.

There are often no symptoms with this condition until the moment it ruptures. This means it’s impossible to tell if you have an aneurysm, which is why screening is so important. Around 85 out of 100 people who have an aneurysm die when it bursts before they reach hospital, or they do not survive surgery, so it is a serious condition. Small and medium sized aneurysms are not a medical emergency; we just need to know they are there so they can be monitored.

There are several risk factors associated with aneurysms. Men are 6 times more likely than women to have one which is why women are not offered screening. The chance of having an aneurysm also increases with age and if any of the following apply:

  • You are or have ever been a smoker
  • You have high blood pressure
  • You have high cholesterol
  • Your brother, sister or parent has, or has had, an abdominal aortic aneurysm

Men will automatically be sent an invitation to attend an AAA screening in the year they turn 65. Men over the age of 65 who have not been screened before can contact their local service to arrange an appointment.

At Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust (SCFT), we have many different screening locations throughout East and West Sussex, and Brighton and Hove. Please call the Sussex AAA screening office on 01903 843834 Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm, or email at SC-TR.sxaaascreening@nhs.net to arrange a screening.

Find out more and watch this video which explains what you can expect when you attend an AAA screening: