A simple scan could save your life

Jack Stevenson
Jack Stevenson

As a former paramedic, Jack Stevenson’s medical knowledge is better than most. But it was still a routine hospital scan that saved his life.

Now the 77-year-old from Banknock is encouraging other men aged 65 or over to make time for a free, painless, ultrasound scan that takes just ten minutes to complete.

NHS Scotland has launched a new campaign to increase the number of men being screened for abdominal aortic aneurysms, a condition that affects the main artery in the stomach.

When Jack, who spent 43 years with the ambulance service, felt a sharp pain in his side he thought he was suffering from appendicitis. But a scan at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert revealed the presence of an aneurysm.

Fortunately the aneurysm was quite small, so clinicians took the decision to monitor it. In June it was found to have grown, and a decision was made to operate.

Five days later the grandfather was well enough to return to his home in Cedar Road with wife Myra.

He said: “I know first hand from my career in the ambulance service that an aneurysm can burst at any time, so it’s really important that men take up the offer of this new scan and make sure they get checked out.

“If you are offered an appointment then go - don’t take a chance.

“The treatment I received was first class.”

It is estimated that about one in 20 men in Scotland have an aneurysm. Most of them are unaware they have the condition as many only experience pain when it ruptures.

If an aneurysm does burst, it can cause life-threatening internal bleeding which in eight out of 10 cases can prove fatal.

NHS Forth Valley began sending out letters at the beginning of the month to men aged 65 or over inviting them to attend a free ultrasound scan.

Consultant Dr Oliver Harding said: “This simple, painless test is done using an ultrasound scan which is the same method used to examine pregnant woman.

“It only takes 10 minutes and the results are available instantly after the scan.”

Around 95 per cent of men are expected to have a normal scan and will exit the screening programme, as the chances of developing an aneurysm are extremely rare.

For more information on arranging a scan, call the freephone number 0800 224488 or visit www.nhsinform.co.uk/screening.