This post provides information on abdominal aortic aneurysm screening (also called AAA screening) for men aged 65 and over.
It explains what an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is and what happens when you go for screening. It should help you decide if you want to be screened. The AAA screening check is a simple free ultrasound scan.
Who can be screened?
The NHS invites all men for screening in the year they turn 65.
What about men aged over 65?
Men aged over 65 who have not been screened before can contact their local service to arrange a test.
What is an abdominal aortic aneurysm?
The aorta is the main blood vessel that supplies blood to your body. It runs from your heart down through your chest and abdomen.
In some people, as they get older, the wall of the aorta in the abdomen can become weak. It can then start to expand and form an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
The condition is most common in men aged 65 and over.
Is an abdominal aortic aneurysm serious?
Large aneurysms are rare but can be very serious. As the wall of the aorta stretches it becomes weaker and can burst, causing internal bleeding. Around 85 out of 100 people die when an aneurysm bursts.
An aorta which is only slightly larger than normal is not dangerous. However, it is still important to know about it so that we can check if the aneurysm is getting bigger.
Why is screening important?
If you have an aneurysm you will not usually notice any symptoms. This means you cannot tell if you have one, will not feel any pain and will probably not notice anything different.
We offer screening so we can find aneurysms early and monitor or treat them. This greatly reduces the chances of the aneurysm causing serious problems.
The easiest way to find out if you have an aneurysm is to have an ultrasound scan of your abdomen.
How common is the condition?
Around 1 in 70 men who are screened have an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
Who is most at risk?
Men are six times more likely to have an abdominal aortic aneurysm than women, which is why women are not offered screening. The chance of having an aneurysm increases with age.
Your chance of having an abdominal aortic aneurysm can also increase if:
- you are or have ever been a smoker.
- you have high blood pressure.
- your brother, sister or parent has, or has had, an abdominal aortic aneurysm.