Twins diagnosed with identical swollen blood vessels are calling on all older men in South Yorkshire to get screened for a potentially fatal condition.
Chris and Keith Hare, aged 65, went to be tested for abdominal aortic aneurysm at their local clinics – and were shocked to find they had aneurysms of almost exactly the same size.
The condition is caused when the abdominal aorta – the largest blood vessel in the body – starts to weaken and expand.
If left unnoticed, the bulge can rupture or burst open, causing massive internal bleeding which is usually fatal.
Chris, from West Melton, near Rotherham, was found to have an AAA measuring 3.3cm, while Keith, of Mexborough, had an aneurysm of 3.4cm.
They went for their free tests after being sent invitations by the South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw AAA Screening Programme.
Both men will now have their aneurysms – classed as being small and posing the least risk – monitored every year to ensure they do not grow.
They said: “It was quite a surprise and shock when we found we both had the condition.
“But prevention is better than cure, so we are happy that we had the scan and now have the peace of mind of knowing that we’ll be monitored regularly.
“We think all men should think about having the scan as it’s an important thing to have done.”
In South Yorkshire, Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals Trust has been tasked with providing the screening programme.
So far, nearly 8,000 men have taken up the offer of the test – a simple ultrasound scan that takes less than 10 minutes.
Vascular surgeon Ray Cuschieri, the county’s clinical lead for the scheme, said: “Family history is a factor with AAAs, with people being more likely to have the condition if a relative has it.
“So it’s good news that Chris and Keith took up the offer of the free scan.
“We now have them in the programme and can check their aneurysms on a regular basis.”
Mr Cuschieri said the Hares are two of 133 men found with aneurysms since the health checks started last year.
Of this group, 14 men had swollen abdominal aortas classed as ‘large’, or at serious risk of rupturing.
Mr Cuschieri said: “That is 14 lives potentially saved.
“This shows the value of the programme. I would ask all men in our area who are 65 or over to consider having the scan and to call us to make an appointment.”
n Men over 65 who have not previously been screened can call 01709 321189 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment.
Log on to www.aaa.screening.nhs.uk for more information.