Topic: Health

Free AAA screening aimed to save Māori lives

By Mānia Clarke
  • Auckland

The Waitemata DHB is leading a screening pilot programme to address Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm in Māori. AAA is a disease in which the main artery in the abdomen becomes enlarged and, with time, it can burst with fatal consequences.

Fraser Toi is encouraging other Māori elders to get scanned for AAA.

“I am not affected by this disease, I'm fortunate, but I've come here today to show our people, don't be afraid to see the doctor who can fix this problem and examine them at the same time.”

The free screening is being offered to Māori men aged 60-74 and in a world first to Māori women aged 65-74, living in the Auckland and Waitemata districts.

Clinical Director AAA Screening Programme Dr Peter Sandiford says, “Māori get triple AAA significantly more than non-Māori and they die from it much more often.  It's a disease that's very strongly related to smoking. It's also related to other problems that affect your heart.”

Waitemata DHB Cultural Advisor Rahiri Bennett says, “At the moment it does not// cost you anything. And secondly, it doesn't give you bad news.   Cause if we do detect a hole than what occurs is that we are able to repair.”

Waitemata carried out an AAA pilot screening programme earlier this year in three general practices in the Waitemata districts. Preliminary results were so convincing that the pilot programme has been extended.

“It's a disease where the main artery coming out of your heart gets bigger and bigger and bigger and can eventually burst and that's deadly when that happens most people die. By a simple ultra sound scan similar. We can detect this blood vessel getting bigger and if it gets too big then we can have it repaired,” says Dr Sandiford

The screening will start late in January and it will end in September 2017.