Screens for abdominal aortic aneurysm 'to save 1,600 lives a year'

GPs have been told to prepare for extra workload as the DoH pushes ahead with plans for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening.

In a speech last week, prime minister Gordon Brown said the DoH was looking to offer all men over 65 ultrasound tests to detect AAA early. It is believed the test could save more than 1,600 of the 3,000 lives lost to the condition in England each year.

Identifying patients with AAA early could lead to elective surgery and avoid the need for emergency aneurysm repair: half of patients die from their ruptures.

Research published by the Cochrane Library last year showed that ultrasound screening halved the number of ruptures in men aged 65-79, although it had no such benefit among women.

But the DoH said further evidence is needed to justify AAA screening. Pilot schemes are to be set up in five centres by the end of the year, funded by £3 million earmarked from the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

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