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Benefits of aortic screening outlined on new website

Older men deciding whether to have abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening on the NHS will now benefit from an informative, interactive website. 

The AAA screening patient decision aid website aims to help men aged 65 and over understand the potential benefits and risks of screening so they can decide if they want to be screened.

All men registered with GPs are invited for ultrasound screening during the year they turn 65, and men over 65 who have not previously been screened can refer themselves to the NHS AAA Screening Programme. 

Informed decision making is particularly important for AAA screening because of the risk of death or suffer serious complications following surgery to repair a screen-detected aneurysm.

Dr Anne Mackie, director of programmes for the UK National Screening Committee, said the public must understand the risks and benefits of the surgery to make an informed choice. 

She said: "The evidence clearly shows that screening 65-year-old men at a national level will save lives. However, for individual men it can lead to important decisions about having surgery, which has an inherent risk. 

"The AAA screening patient decision aid is another resource that will help to ensure men are given information in a supportive way that enables them to choose to be screened - or not."  

The NHS AAA Screening Programme aims to keep primary care workload to a minimum. However, it is important that nurses, GPs and other healthcare professionals are aware both of the screening programme and the decision aid so they can:

 - Respond to patients' questions and concerns

 - Discuss the screening process with patients

 - Support patients in making informed decisions about screening

The decision aid has been developed by the NHS AAA Screening Programme in conjunction with the National Shared Decision Making Programme and is based on data from the largest randomised trial - the Multicentre Aneurysm Screening Study. 

A printable pdf version of the resource is also available on request for people who do not have internet access.

Additional information for health professionals is available to download from the NHS AAA Screening programmes website.