Vascular Awareness Month – September 2019

The Royal Sussex County Hospital is joining 3 other hospitals for a static bike race to raise funds for the SSCF and a national vascular charity.

The SSCF bike will be stationed in the Vascular Assessment Unit on Level 8 Tower in the Royal Sussex County Hospital between 2nd and 30th September and we are inviting anyone and everyone to pop up and cycle for a few minutes so we can achieve 956 MILES in the month – that’s the equivalent of cycling from Lands End to John O’Grotes.   Our competitors are the Manchester Vascular Centre, the Royal Oldham Hospital and the Wythenshawe Hospital.

We’ll be keeping a keen eye on their progress and hope to get to our target first as well as raising the most money for SSCF and the Circulation Foundation.

Please come along and cycle for us – even for just one or two minutes!

1960’s Themed Anniversary party raises funds for SSCF

Hayward & Green Aviation held a 1960’s Themed Anniversary Party in July and all the money raised by the event was donated to the Sussex Stroke & Circulation Fund.  Their Chairman, David Green, has been a long time supporter of the Fund having “donated” his home for our annual cricket matches over a number of years.

SSCF and Data Protection Requirements

You may have heard about the new General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) that comes into effect May 25th, 2018. To help comply with GDPR consent requirements, we will be asking recipients of our annual posted newsletter to contact us by email or text message to say “Yes” if they wish to remain on the mailing list.

New Doppler Reporting Systems for Vascular Labs

Simon Ward, Consultant Vascular Scientist, asked SSCF for some new hand held doppler machines for nurse specialists, which could be configured to work with laptops to convey the results to the referrer more speedily.  The Committee agreed and the new equipment is already up and working in Brighton.

New Committee Member

louiseWe have been able to recruit another new member to our Committee.  She is Louise Wilson, currently working as a Vascular Nurse Specialist based in Eastbourne.  Louise gratuated from the University of London in 1982 and was Ward Sister on the vascular unit at Charing Cross Hospital from 1988 to 1995.  During that time she helped establish the pioneering Vascular Nursing Course at Thames Valley University.  Louise was a founding member of the Society of Vascular Nurses and has served on their committee.  Louise has been the Vascular Nurse Specialist for East Sussex Hospitals sincer 1988 and has a special interest in the diabetic foot and contributes to the training of podiatrists at the University of Brighton.

Latest Aortic Aneurysm Research

Diagram of aortic aneurysm

Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust is carrying out a research study to investigate how surgery for abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery affects future risk of cardiovascular disease.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is swelling of the main artery in the body (aorta). It is a common disease, affecting 1 in 25 men in England. Patients are offered surgery for large aneurysms as a potentially lifesaving procedure. We want to measure arterial stiffness in these patients.

Arterial stiffness is a measure of the hardening of arteries and can be used to predict the risk of suffering from cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and stroke.

The study will examine whether AAA surgery increases arterial stiffness, potentially increasing future risk of cardiovascular events.  This will provide new information for patients and surgeons to help us make the best decisions about optimising care.

The SSCF  are offering ongoing support to help cover the transport costs of patients who have kindly volunteered their time to participate in this research study.

Our early history

Following an operation for an ischaemic leg and femoral posterior in 1980, the patient was asked if she could raise £3,000 to replace a piece of equipment which was held together by sticky tape, but very necessary for Vascular Surgery etc.

This was to be the beginning. The first donation of £100 was given by the husband of the patient and the surgeon gave £175 which had been given to him by previous patients.

Where do we go from here?

A meeting was arranged with members of the Cardiac department, who already had experience with fund-raising. Following this, a Committee of three surgeons, a radiologist and a neurologist was formed with the ex-patient as secretary/fund raiser. Her problems had just begun!

For a short time, the fund was called “The Vascular Fund” but soon realised that this did not have an impact on the general public. Stroke & Circulation had a greater meaning, most people know someone who has had s stroke and could relate to the fund much better.

How to get people interested was a problem. There was lots of publicity and descriptive leaflets of the aims of the Fund printed, but these were not allowed to be placed within the hospital at that time. To get people involved, it was decided to offer a membership of £5 yearly, this being to cover the cost of advertising, postage and information relating to fund raising events. It worked and many people were interested.

One of the first machines purchased by the Fund
One of the first machines purchased by the Fund being demonstrated by Philip Somerville, Vascular Surgeon.
The first fund raising event was held in September 1980 – A cheese and wine party at £2.50 per head and this raised £792! This gave the Committee great encouragement and further small events were held. A small party in the boardroom of the hospital was held together with a Xmas Draw, principally to thank all those who had helped get the fund off the ground. The Xmas Draw and donations raised £501. This enabled the Fund to purchase the first items for the Vascular Unit – arterial cuffs and Doppler flow meters.

There followed a very successful “Open Evening” in co-operation with the Cardiac Department, showing the equipment which the Vascular Department (although there wasn’t one yet) would like the Fund to purchase.

The SSCF committee
Presentation of scanner to the X-Ray Department in the 1980s. The SSCF raised £12,000 of the £17,000 total cost.
The next purchase was a Flowmeter costing £5,000 and this was soon followed by a scanner which had to be located in the X-Ray Department. The Fund paid £12,000 towards the total cost of £17,000, the health authority meeting the balance.

Due to the family of the late Norman Peroni kindly donating £6,000, the Fund was then able to purchase an Angioscan 11 costing £10,000. By now, the Vascular Technician had an office and the Angioscan was housed there. Medical books costing £500 were also purchased and kept in the office for use by the trainee doctors.

Much fund raising took place during this period and the membership part of the Fund was discontinued.

Various pieces of equipment were then purchased for use by the Vascular Surgeons at the Princess Royal Hospital, including a Photoplethysmograph, many hand held Doppler machines for G.P. surgeries, the wards in the Royal Sussex County Hospital and Cuckfield Hospital and a DATEX Cardiocap for the X-Ray Department.

In 1987, the Fund became a Registered Charity – previously it had been part of the endowment fund within the Royal Sussex County Hospital.

The Fund refurbishes the Interventional Radiology Suite
The Fund refurbishes the Interventional Radiology Suite
Finally a room was made available for the first Vascular Laboratory – the Fund paid for lots of the smaller pieces of equipment, a Diasonic Ultrasound System and towards some of the work to make the room suitable for purpose.

A large bequest from the estate of Esme Anderson enabled the Fund to pay £150,000 of the £500,000 towards a new Interventional Vascular Suite. Brighton & Hove Lions also contributed £25,000 to this project.

Intermittent claudication – More than a pain in the leg

My leg muscles hurt when I walk….
I can’t manage hills without a short stop….
I often need to stop and hang on to a lamp post or pretend to be interested in shop windows….

Man with intermittent claudication
One in five men over 50 are thought to have some degree of intermittent claudication. Women can also be affected.

If this sounds familiar then you may be one of the thousands of people suffering from intermittent claudication.

Intermittent claudication is pain in the leg that comes on when the muscles are working, caused by narrowing of the arteries supplying the muscles with blood. This “furring-up” of the arteries is all part of ageing, but in some people the process is greatly accelerated. We know that cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, raised cholesterol and diabetes can all play a part. One in five men over 50 is thought to have some degree of intermittent claudication but women can also be affected.

Your GP should be able to tell you if the pain in your leg is intermittent claudication. If you get pain in the muscle of your calf or thigh when you walk, pain that comes on sooner when you walk more quickly or walk up hill, but eases after a few minutes rest – then go and see your doctor. He or she will need to know exactly how far you can walk before the pain stops you, and will need to examine your legs and feel or listen for foot pulses.

If you do have blood flow problems what does it mean and what will happen next? First of all if you smoke you must stop immediately – nicotine and carbon dioxide inhaled from tobacco smoke damage blood vessels, reduce the amount of oxygen blood can carry and constrict small blood vessels. Your doctor may suggest you take an aspirin every day, aspirin helps by thinning the blood. A referral to a Vascular Surgeon or a Vascular Laboratory may also be suggested.

The Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton has one of the busiest Vascular Laboratories in the UK, the technicians at the laboratory can perform a range of tests to confirm intermittent claudication and pinpoint the arteries involved. These tests are painless and do not involve any needles or injections. Most patients seeing a Vascular Surgeon will be examined, have a blood test, be warned again to stop smoking and advised what they can do to help themselves. If the arterial narrowing is advanced then x-rays of the arteries may be needed. There are no pills that can make the problem go away but there are treatments that can help stop the condition progressing. If the arteries are blocked then bypass surgery may be the only option.

Intermittent claudication can be serious, left unchecked it can lead to amputation. Occasionally it can be acute and when a patient is suspected of having an acute occlusion the case must be discussed immediately with a Vascular Surgeon who will refer to the Vascular Laboratory for initial assessment. The speed of this assessment and the hours saved by the immediate availability of a Vascular Laboratory can make the difference between death, loss of leg or complete recovery of limb function to normal after treatment. The rehabilitation after amputation can take many months and only a few walk successfully with their artificial limbs.

By Simon Ward
Chief Technologist
Vascular Assessment Unit
Royal Sussex County Hospital