Carotid Stenosis

March 24, 2020 at 12:50 pm

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, with well over 100,000 deaths annually. Approximately 87% of strokes are caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain, these are termed ischemic strokes. The main causes of ischemic strokes are fatty deposits (plaques) lining the brain’s blood vessels restricting flow (cerebral thrombus) or fatty deposits that break off from arteries in another location and travel to the brain inhibiting blood flow (cerebral emboli).

The carotid artery is the main artery supplying blood to the brain. Plaque has a tendency to build up at the carotid artery bifurcation and can break off, causing a stroke. Approximately one third of strokes are due to cerebral emboli from carotid arteries. Thus, carotid artery narrowing (stenosis) is closely measured in those patients at risk for a stroke or who have had stroke like symptoms. Once the narrowing reaches 50% in patients with stroke symptoms or 70% in patients without symptoms, it is recommended to undergo surgery to clean the artery (carotid endarterectomy [CEA]).

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