SOUTHAMPTON men can slash the risk of a premature death by having a pregnancy scan, according to a city surgeon.

Gareth Morris, a consultant vascular surgeon at Southampton General Hospital believes a simple ten-minute stomach ultrasound scan can help people live longer.

The scan could diagnose or rule out abdominal aortic aneurysms, which are responsible for 5,000 deaths a year in England and Wales, mostly among older men.

A national scheme has been rolled out this month to screen men over 65 but in Southampton the screening programme is now in its second year, having seen 18 men referred for surgery to repair aneurysms before they could cause more serious problems.

Mr Morris, who believes the national programme could hale the current death rate, said: “There are so many avoidable deaths from abdominal aortic aneurysms and it is a real tragedy’ because we know a quick scan will save lives through either monitoring or corrective surgery – but timing is everything.

“The condition is often symptomless, so I would strongly advise men to consider the offer of a screening test, which is a simple scan similar to that offered to women in pregnancy, particularly if they are in a high risk group.”

All men whose 65th birthdays fall on or after April 1, 2013, will be automatically invited for screening, while men in their late 60s or early 70s who have not previously been screened can self-refer.