6th August 2020

Men across Somerset and North Devon encouraged to get potentially life-saving vascular screening

Men’s Shed – Wincanton Pictured: M Adams, P Heyes, G Stevens, T Ashton, B Hunter, Trevor Whittingham, T Parker, A Holbrook

Somerset and North Devon’s abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening programme team has been visiting towns across the counties to encourage men over 65 to get screened.

It’s all part of promoting the importance of AAA screening to men who may otherwise not get themselves checked out.

Screening technicians and administrative staff from the programme, which is run by Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, took part in a series of health walks where they asked men who attended for advice on how best to reach other men over 65 in their community.

The overwhelming response was to visit Men’s Sheds, which are community spaces for men to connect, talk and create. The activities are similar to those of garden sheds, but are for groups of men to enjoy together, helping to reduce loneliness and isolation.

After hearing this feedback, the team visited the Men’s Sheds in Frome and Wincanton, where they were given a warm and friendly welcome, and they now plan to attend more in the future.

Lorna Hewart, who is responsible for the AAA screening programme, said: “We wanted to spread the word about AAA screening and thought that by going to the places that men over 65 tend to socialise we could find out first-hand how we could encourage them to self-refer to get the potentially life-saving screening.

“An abdominal aortic aneurysm can occur if the wall of the aorta – the main blood vessel that supplies blood to the body – gets weak and starts to expand.

“The condition can be serious and screening is important as most people will not feel any pain or symptoms, and will probably not notice anything different. Screening can help to find an aneurysm early so that it can be monitored or treated.

“Men are six time more likely to have this type of aneurysm than women and the chance of having an aneurysm increases with age.

“Men are also at greater risk of having an abdominal aortic aneurysm if they smoke, have high blood pressure, or their brother, sister or parent has had an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

“So I’d recommend that men get in touch with us to book an. The ultrasound scan is very quick and reliable, usually takes less than 10 minutes, and the results are provided straight away with a copy sent to their GP.”

To discuss or book a screening appointment, or if you run a Men’s Shed and would like us to visit, call 01823 344567.

For more details about Men’s Sheds, go to www.menssheds.org.uk.

For more information about local health walks, go to www.zingsomerset.co.uk or www.walkingforhealth.org.uk.