​Carotid Artery Disease Can Lead to Ischemic Stroke: Learn the Symptoms & Treatment! by Donna John

​Carotid Artery Disease Can Lead to Ischemic Stroke: Learn the Symptoms & Treatment!

An ischemic stroke is frequently a surprise event because even people who have severe narrowing of an internal carotid, which causes the stroke, usually have had no symptoms. In many cases the condition is found during a routine physical or after a patient has already had a stroke. Sometimes the physician can detect a telltale sound in the artery before any strokes have occurred. The narrowing of artery sometimes creates audible noises that can be picked up when your doctor listens to your neck (this audible noise is called a bruit).

If your doctor thinks you might have carotid artery disease it can cause the artery to narrow, or if you have had a stroke, you will be given a painless ultrasound test to determine the extent of the narrowing, also called stenosis. (Be sure the lab is “ICAVL approved.” The vascular surgeon will need to make important decisions based on the accuracy of the test.) Patients who should be considered for an ultrasound screening are those over age 65 with atherosclerotic risk factors, such as high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, a history of heart attack or a smoking habit.

Based on the ultrasound test, patients will next see a vascular surgeon. Vascular surgeons perform surgery or endovascular intervention only when necessary and many patients who have mild or even moderate carotid disease with no symptoms only need medication and regular monitoring by the surgeon. If the artery is 70 to 80 percent narrowed by ultrasound, the vascular surgeon may decide you need a carotid endarterectomy or carotid angioplasty and stenting.

Endarterectomy opens the carotid for a cleaning; angioplasty and stenting involve inserting and inflating a miniature balloon to widen the artery, followed by the insertion of a small stent. Angioplasty and stenting are mostly for patients who don’t qualify for an endarterectomy. Recovery for both options is quick and most patients are up and around in a day or two.

Learn more about carotid artery disease and ischemic strokes here

Photo: Duplex ultrasound is an easy, painless test that can diagnose carotid artery disease.

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