Laurieston’s James urges others to have the simple scan that saved his life

Grandfather James Paton is encouraging other men of his age to take up the option of a free NHS scan. Picture: Michael Gillen

Grandfather James Paton is encouraging other men of his age to take up the option of a free NHS scan. Picture: Michael Gillen

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The chance reading of a magazine article led to James Paton receiving a potentially life-saving operation.

Now the 71-year-old grandfather from Laurieston is encouraging other men aged 65 or over to undergo the same simple and pain-free screening test that proved of such great benefit to him.

The abdominal aortic aneurism (AAA) screening programme was started by NHS Forth Valley in October 2013.

Since then 1555 men from the Falkirk district have taken up the offer of a free test.

Five men, including James, have been referred for surgery and 39 others are being regularly monitored.

It’s estimated that around one man in 20 in Scotland has an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which forms when the aorta, the main artery that supplies blood to the body from the heart, weakens and then balloons in size.

If it ruptures, it can cause internal bleeding - fatal in eight out of 10 cases.

James said: “I was living with a timebomb that I didn’t know about. I was one of the lucky ones.”

The retired metal polisher first heard of the AAA screening programme in March after his brother-in-law Fred Duffy read about it in a magazine article.

“I said, ‘that doesn’t sound a bad idea’,” James added. “I went along to Falkirk Community Hospital, not expecting any problems. It was a kick in the teeth when I found out I had a large aneurism.

“But within 10 days I had seen a consultant. The information the NHS provided was first class, they set everything out very clearly.”

After an operation in July, John was given the all-clear just six weeks later.

“I was lucky, but I had a relative who had an aneurism he knew nothing about. He was driving up to Dundee when it burst. He survived, but many others don’t.

“I would strongly encourage others to get themselves checked out.”

Men aged 65 and over who have never had an AAA screening can refer themselves for an appointment by contacting NHS Inform on 0800 224488.

Around 95 per cent of those who undergo a scan will require no further follow-up appointments.

Screening programme proves a hit

Around 83 per cent of men invited to have a free AAA scan by NHS Forth Valley have taken up the offer - but health bosses are hopeful that more will now follow suit.

Sandra Robertson, radiology department manager, described the figure as very encouraging. “The response in Forth Valley has been really good over the last year, however we want to make sure this continues which is why we are encouraging all men who receive an invite to make sure they attend their local hospital.

“The screening test is simple, quick and pain-free. It is carried out using an ultrasound scan and the results are available instantly.”

Small or medium aneurysms rarely cause trouble but it is still important to have them monitored incase they grow bigger. Anyone found to have a larger aneurysm is usually referred for treatment.

Younger men are not considered to be at risk.