Musgrove Park Hospital’s AAA education day - 19 November 2013

Musgrove Park Hospital’s AAA education day - 19 November 2013

Men diagnosed with an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) recently attended an annual education day so both they, and their families, could find out more about this condition.

In some men, as they get older the wall of the aorta, which is the main blood vessel in the abdomen, can become weak. It can then start to expand and form what is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm or AAA. If left undetected, an AAA can burst and cause severe internal bleeding which is usually fatal.

The AAA education day, which was held at Junction 24 of the M5, near Bridgwater, offered information and support to patients across Somerset and North Devon who had been diagnosed with this condition.

The day was opened by the programme manager, Karen Bentley-Hollins, who explained about the National Screening Programme and updated the attendees on how successful the programme is locally; it has the highest uptake in the South West.

Clinical director and AAA and vascular consultant, Mr Andrew Stewart said “The AAA screening programme has been a tremendous success. By screening men using a simple and pain free ultrasound test we are able to effectively identify and treat these otherwise undetectable life threatening aneurysms.

“Screening also enables us to detect many smaller aneurysms which are at a stage where simply adopting a healthier lifestyle could make a huge difference to the way this condition progresses.

“I would encourage all men of retirement age to take the opportunity to undergo this free NHS screening, which is available at local GP practices.”

During the day Moira Cook, vascular and AAA lead nurse practitioner, ran a question and answers session which allowed men and their families to ask any questions they had about the condition. Mr Andrew Stewart also answered questions and gave a presentation on the types of operations available for treating an AAA.

Dennis Peters from the Bridgwater Lions International club spoke about the message-in-a-bottle scheme and generously provided bottles to the attendees

Patients who had already undergone surgery openly shared their stories and experiences and stalls with information on active lifestyles, healthy eating, retinopathy and much more were also available for attendees to visit.

Attendees also received pedometers and there was information from the Circulation Foundation a UK charity that funds and promotes research into the causes, prevention and treatment of vascular disease.

Programme manager, Karen Bentley-Hollins, said: “We had a really positive response to the day with many of the men attending thanking us for such a supportive and informative event. We plan to continue to run this event annually and I hope this will inspire any man who receives an invitation to attend for AAA screening, or those aged over 65 (who have not already been screened by the NHS) to self-refer to us. We know that the East Mendip area is our lowest area for uptake so I hope this will encourage them to come forward.”

If you are a man aged over 65 and wish to have a scan please call the programme on 01823 344567. We particularly encourage men with a family history, who have high blood pressure or who have ever smoked.