Carotid artery disease : Treatment

Treatment

Treatment options include:

  • No treatment, other than checking your carotid artery with tests every year
  • Medicine and diet to lower your cholesterol and control your blood pressure
  • Blood-thinning medicines to lower your risk of stroke; some of these medicines are aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), and warfarin (Coumadin)

Surgery, called carotid endarterectomy, to remove the buildup in your carotid arteries may help prevent new strokes from occurring in persons with large blockages in their neck arteries. See: Carotid artery surgery

Prognosis (Expectations)

Stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States. Some people who have a stroke recover most or all of their functions. Others die from the stroke itself or from complications. About half of those who have a stroke have long-term problems.

Complications

The major complication associated with carotid artery disease are:

  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA). This is an episode in which a person has stroke -like symptoms for less than 24 hours, usually less than 1-2 hours. A TIA is often considered a warning sign that a stroke may happen in the future if something is not done to prevent it.
  • Stroke. A stroke can happen when a blood vessel in any part of the brain is blocked. The blood through the narrowed carotid artery may slow so much that a clot forms. A stroke may also occur if a small piece of a blood clot breaks off and travels to a smaller artery in the brain.

Calling Your Health Care Provider

Go to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) as soon as symptoms occur. When having a stroke, every second of delay can result in more brain injury.


Review Date : 7/28/2009 12:00:00 AM
Reviewed By : Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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