Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Programme

All men in Northern Ireland in their 65th year are invited to have screening for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). If you are invited, you are encouraged to attend. It is a simple, free test that could save your life.

What is an AAA?

The aorta is the main artery that supplies blood to your body. It runs from your heart down through your chest and abdomen (belly). As some people get older, the wall of the aorta in the abdomen can become weak and balloon out to form an aneurysm. This is called an AAA.

Is an AAA serious?

If you have a small AAA, you will need to be monitored to see if it grows.

If you have a medium AAA, it could become serious if it continues to grow. It also needs to be monitored.

A large AAA is very serious. As the wall of the aorta stretches, it becomes weaker, and it could give way and rupture (burst). A ruptured AAA leads to serious internal bleeding, which can be fatal.

Risk factors for getting an AAA

Men are six times more likely than women to have an AAA. The risk of developing an AAA also depends on your age and genes. Around one in 40 men in Northern Ireland have an AAA, and if you are the close relative of an affected person, you are more likely to get one.

Other risk factors known to increase the risk and size of AAAs are:

  • smoking
  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure

However, AAAs can occur in men who do not fall into any of the above categories.

About AAA screening

Screening is the most effective way to tell if you have an AAA because you are unlikely to have any symptoms or feel any different.

AAA screening involves a simple ultrasound scan of your abdomen. If you are eligible for screening you will receive an information leaflet and letter of invitation asking you to attend.

If you are over the age of 65 and have never attended for AAA screening, you can ask to be screened by contacting the central screening office on: 028 9063 1828

Please see the following leaflet for further details AAA Screening Leaflet

If you have had confirmation that you can register with the surgery you may print your own forms to complete at home by using the following:-

If your records are with a GP surgery within the UK use an HS 200 Form HS200 to register when your records are held with a UK GP Surgery

If you do not currently have a GP in the UK then you must use an SCR1 form HSCR1 for those registering from outside of the UK