Hundreds of men in Brighton and Hove are missing appointments for potentially life-saving health screening tests for a common killer condition.
The tests target men aged 65 and over who are most likely to be at risk of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
About 5,000 people, most of them older men, die in England and Wales every year from abdominal aortic aneurysms which are formed when the main blood vessel in the body weakens and expands.
An abdominal aortic aneurysm usually causes no symptoms but, if it bursts, is extremely dangerous and usually fatal.
About 8 out of 10 people with a ruptured AAA either die before they reach hospital or don’t survive surgery.
The Sussex Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening Programme, provided by Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust (SCFT), is encouraging men aged 65 and over to take up the offer of screening.
The programme invites men for screening during the year they turn 65 while men aged over 65 who have not previously been screened can arrange an appointment by contacting the service directly.
Screening aims to reduce preventable deaths by detecting aneurysms early when they can be treated effectively. The screening test involves a simple ultrasound scan which takes about 10 to 15 minutes.
Men who have an aneurysm identified by screening are monitored in the community until the aneurysm reaches 5.5cm in diameter. They are then referred to a surgeon for potential treatment.
Bob Marson, from West Sussex, underwent surgery to repair an aneurysm detected by screening in December 2014 and is a strong supporter of the programme.
He said: “Without the availability of the NHS screening programme, the likelihood of me still being alive to tell the tale would be very unlikely. The advice I would give any man would be not to ignore the offer of an AAA screen.”
Consultant vascular surgeon Mahmoud Salman, the director of the Sussex AAA Screening Programme, said: “Between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018, 20 per cent of those eligible in Brighton and Hove did not attend appointments arranged for screening.
“This is a significant proportion of the population missing out on a potentially lifesaving test.”
Mr Salman said: “Our main concern is those people who are not attending appear to be registered to GPs located in higher deprivation areas and data shows that there is an increased likelihood of detecting an aneurysm in this population.
“Since April 2018, 27 men have been referred to the Vascular Team having met the threshold for vascular intervention. This is 27 men who may have died of an undetected AAA had they not attended for screening.
“We would encourage all of those eligible to seriously consider attending their appointment to reduce avoidable deaths from ruptured AAAs.”
SCFT said: “The programme runs screening clinics across Sussex and NHS staff will be pleased to assist in rearranging appointments or helping with any queries.
“For any queries regarding the AAA Screening Programme or for any information regarding an AAA please visit www.nhs.uk/aaa or call the AAA screening office on 01903 843834.”
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