Carotid stenosis is the narrowing of the carotid arteries that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the brain. It is caused by atherosclerosis (buildup of plaque) inside the artery wall that reduces blood flow to the brain.
Symptoms of Carotid stenosis
- Short-term blindness in one eye
- Difficulty walking
- Loss of balance
- Lack of coordination
- Sudden dizziness or confusion
- Feeling weak or numb in an arm, leg, or face
- Sudden severe headache
- Difficulty swallowing
- Temporary inability to speak or understand conversation
A blockage does not necessarily mean that you will be having a stroke. Asymptomatic partial blockage (more than 60%) carries only a 2% risk of developing stroke every year.
Carotid Stenosis Treatment
A careful, multispecialty evaluation is required to determine the best, personalized treatment option. Treatment options for carotid stenosis may include:
- Medication (antiplatelet drug therapy)
- Managing risk factors, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, obesity, and tobacco usage
- Carotid endarterectomy surgery to remove plaque (fatty deposits)
- Carotid angioplasty and stenting - a long, hollow catheter is inserted in your groin artery and connected to your narrowed carotid artery. A tiny balloon at the catheter tube’s end is inflated to open the narrowed artery, and then a stent is inserted to prevent it from narrowing again.
The percentage of blockage, age, and health condition of a patient determines the right treatment type. Here is an overview of when you should have surgical, medical, and endovascular treatment for carotid stenosis:
Surgery is the best option for symptomatic patients with 70% to 99% blockage in the carotid artery. However, it can also be considered for patients with 50% to 69% blockage. Doctors agree that surgery is the most effective option for patients with moderate to severe carotid stenosis.
- Angioplasty and Stenting
It is a good option for high-risk symptomatic patients who cannot undergo surgery because of having other health issues.
- Asymptomatic Patients
Treatment choices are less clear for asymptomatic patients with partially blocked carotid arteries. Surgery is an option, but it is unclear whether it’s more beneficial than other treatment options.
- Symptomatic and Asymptomatic Patients
Differentiating patients with symptoms and without symptoms is difficult because most patients are diagnosed with carotid artery stenosis after seeing their doctor for blurry or floating vision, generalized weakness, and dizziness.
- Age Matters for Treatment Type
The risk of carotid stenosis treatment outweighs the benefit for patients aged 75 and above with other health conditions. Angioplasty and stenting increase the risk of stroke than surgery for patients aged 80 and above.
Schedule an appointment with North Atlanta Vascular Clinic and Vein Center if you are experiencing carotid stenosis symptoms. We offer the best and personalized treatment of carotid artery stenosis in Johns Creek and surrounding areas.