Thousands skipping screening that could save their lives

There’s a condition that can kill in minutes and has no symptoms, yet one in five men aged over 65

There’s a condition that can kill in minutes and has no symptoms, yet one in five men aged over 65 year are putting themselves at risk.

According to research up to 80 per cent of patients with a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) will die before they reach a hospital, and the Australian and New Zealand Society for Vascular Surgery says of the survivors only about one half of those will reach an operating theatre with 40 per cent of those having surgery surviving to 30 days.

It might be an incredibly rare condition, but the consequences are often fatal.

AAA is the dilatation of the major artery (aorta) within your abdomen. What makes this condition fatal is when the artery bursts because it causes a huge amount of internal bleeding.

While there are usually no warning signs — that is until it happens — a simple 10-minute ultrasound scan of the abdomen can look for swelling in the blood vessel, the main indicator of an aneurysm.

In the United Kingdom there is a free NHS screening, however latest figures show at least 20 per cent of men don’t take up the offer.

While there is no formal screening guideline in Australia, men over the age of 65 who do get screened are shown to reduce aneurysm-related mortality.

If you smoke, have high blood pressure or other vascular disease such as cardiac or peripheral vascular disease, you are at an increased risk of aneurysms. If another family member has had an aneurysm, your chances of having one also go up. It affects between 4 and 7 per cent of men, while women only have a 1 to 2 per cent likelihood of developing the condition.

An AAA is diagnosed when the abdominal aorta has swollen from its normal diameter of around 3cm to 5.5cm or more.

Have you ever heard of abdominal aortic aneurysm before? Should there be a formal screening test in Australia given the condition is so serious?

  1. mum has an abdominal aortic aneurysm and by the time its big enough to warrant them operating on her she will either be to sick or dead

  2. My father died following a posterior aortic aneurysm rupture. This is even more rare being posterior. He did smoke so that would have to be the cause.

  3. Robert  

    My sweet sister died from this 2 years ago

  4. I was lucky, I got mine repaired early. Have scans every 6 months. Very deadly.

  5. Suzanne  

    My dad died at age 38yrs, from ruptured AAA. He suffered indigestion and drank mylanta in the weeks prior to his death. He was s heavy smoker & drinker, & also worked shift work.
    Even though he left three teenagers and s wife who miss him terribly, I don’t think more testing is warranted. My dad never went near a dr. I think people should take more responsibility for their health and partake in maintenance and wellness. I find as a nurse a lot of clients treat their bodies as if they are indestructible and then do patch up when needed rather than maintenance

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