The devastated family of a woman who died from an undiagnosed abdominal aortic aneurysm are desperate to change the policy on routine screening.

Cath McLeod, 70, died at  Prospect Hospice in December 2020 when an undiagnosed bulge in her aorta ruptured around six weeks after heart surgery.

Currently, routine screening for AAAs is only offered to men when they turn 65 and this has not been extended to women. According to the NHS, men are six times more likely to have one than women.

But husband of almost 40 years Phil McLeod and their children Andrew and Kate have launched a petition to try to get the policy changed because they believe it could have saved Cath’s life.

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“Her death and those of many other women could have been avoided if routine ultrasound scans were offered to all women, as they are for men,” says Phil. 

“Since Cath died, I’ve become so aware of other women dying from ruptured AAAs including my neighbour’s mother.

“Nothing is the same without Cath. Everyone remembers her smile and her laugh.

“To my mind, it shouldn’t matter if men are six times more likely to have it than women. Does that mean that these women are expendable? 

“It’s a cheap, quick and easy scan to do.”

The aorta is the main blood vessel that runs from the heart through the chest. The aneurysm can grow bigger over time and when it bursts, causes life-threatening internal bleeding. 

If detected early via an ultrasound scan, the condition can be treated. 

Cath’s condition was discovered during an X-ray for stomach pains when she was on the road to recovery after her heart surgery.

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By the time the AAA had been found, it was already beginning to rupture and it was too late for anything to be done.

Cath’s AAA had grown to a huge 10.4cm. A large AAA is described by the NHS as measuring over 5.5cm.

Phil and Cath moved to Swindon in the 1970s and stayed in Freshbrook until 2011. She worked with the police support staff in Swindon until she retired in 2010.

“She was a vibrant, cheerful and a thoroughly nice person.

“When we were living in Swindon, you could come across all sorts of people and they all knew her. She took part in so many organisations like netball.”

To sign the petition, click here.