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Carotid Stenosis Treatment

June 21, 2019

As we move up from the heart, we move up into the carotid arteries and we think about carotid stenosis. And this is something that can be treated medically with aggressive risk factor control, blood pressure, cholesterol and milder blood thinners than what we just talked about, something called Plavix typically or aspirin. And we use aggressive medical therapy if the degree of narrowing is 70% or less. If the degree of narrowing in that carotid artery is more than 70% then often what we’ll choose is to have surgery. And the type of surgery that’s done is something called a carotid endarterectomy and this is where the artery is actually opened up by a vascular surgeon and cleaned out and then sewn back up. And that can be very effective at stroke prevention. Although in someone who’s had a stroke or TIA, we tend to want to do it as early as we can safely do it after the event. There is another option in patients who are at higher risk for surgery and that’s something called a carotid artery stent. And the stent is where, again, where they put the catheter up, the artery up into the carotid artery, and, and just like in the heart, deploy a stent that opens up the artery to allow blood flow to come through. So either of those things can be done, although more commonly here in Tucson, it’s carotid endarterectomy surgery.

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