Monday, 11 January 2010

Asian Men in Leicester Being Invited to Screening Programme

By Sunil Patel

The health of Asian men who are 65 this year could be at serious risk unless they attend a screening to check for abdominal aortic aneurysms (also known as AAAs).

Across the country, an estimated 80,000 men aged between 65 and 74 are affected by the condition, which mainly affects men.

This is caused when the main blood vessel in the abdomen - the aorta - weakens and starts to expand.

The NHS Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Programme is being rolled out gradually across England and invites men in their 65th year to have a screening.

Doctor Nasim said: “We don’t know whether people have abdominal aortic aneurysms or whether they require surgery until they have a scan.

He added, “The main blood vessel in the stomach is worn out through many years of wear and tear.”

Since the programme began in Leicester in April 3,431 men have been screened but only 129 of them identifying themselves as being Asian.

Up to now all but 10% of all men who are eligible in Leicester have taken up the offer of a check.

One of the reasons of a low representation of Asian men coming forward may be due to the fact most of the health information literature is written in English.

As the figures suggest there has been a shortfall in numbers from the Asian population and more action is required to address this problem, according to Doctor Akhtar Nasim, consultant vascular surgeon, Leicester Vascular Unit.

He said, “In our population we have to work harder to get the message across.”

If undetected the condition could be fatal with around 6,000 people in England dying from a burst AAA each year.

Doctor Nasim claims smoking and high blood pressure are the leading causes of the condition.

And there are no external warning signs or symptoms to suggest that people may be suffering from the condition.

He said, “If there is early detection and the condition is properly managed there is no reason for that person to suffer any ill effects.”

Men found with a large AAA will be offered treatment, often surgery, while men found with a small aneurysm will be offered surveillance and invited to back for further screening at yearly or three monthly intervals, depending on the size of an aneurysm.

Screening services will be delivered by local Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), men are invited to be screened at a location near to their home, usually, a GP practice and older men who may have missed out on the screening can call the hospital and book an appointment on a self-referral basis.

Dr Nasim explains how they can treat an AAA: “We can either put in a Stent (a woven polyester tube with the tubular metal framework) using a keyhole approach with two small groin incisions, or by replacing the aneurysm with a tube using open surgery involving a large abdominal incision.”

Across the country, there are six early implementer sites at South Manchester, Gloucestershire, South West London, West Sussex, South Devon and Exeter.

Early next year the programme will be rolled out to the North East, Birmingham East and North, South East London and Peninsula (Cornwall and Isles of Scilly), and further sites will be announced later in the year.

Once the programme is fully operational it is expected to reduce the death rate from AAA’s by 50%. Roll out of the programme across England is expected to be completed by 2013.

Further information on the NHS Abdominal Aortic Screening Programme can be found at

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