Carotid Artery Disease

This occurs when plaque accumulates in the wall of the carotid arteries causing narrowing of the lumen and reducing blood flow to the brain. This can sometimes cause a stroke or a mini-stroke (Transient Ischemic Attack). This can be managed with open surgery to clear out the blockage or with stenting.

Leading cause of stroke responsible for around 15% of all ischemic strokes

What is the carotid artery?

The paired carotid arteries on either side of the neck are major branches that supply blood flow to the brain.

What is carotid artery stenosis?

Narrowing of the artery because of the buildup of plaque. This can lead to a complete blockage of flow resulting in a large stroke. More frequently, small pieces of the plaque might break off, travel and cause blockage of smaller branches in the brain resulting in a mini-stroke (also known as a TIA or Transient Ischemic Attack) or a stroke.

How is carotid artery stenosis diagnosed?

Most patients with carotid artery stenosis have no symptoms. Some patients present with a stroke or TIA. Others are found to have carotid stenosis during a routine physical during which a “bruit” is heard over the artery which prompts further studies. An ultrasound is one of the best ways to screen for and diagnose the disease. A CT is sometimes required to evaluate the disease extent more fully.

How is carotid artery stenosis treated?

Medical therapy is the mainstay of treatment using Aspirin and Cholesterol-lowering drugs. Interventional options include surgery (carotid endarterectomy) to clean out the disease and carotid artery stenting.

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