Stroke due to poor blood flow is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Over 500,000 people per year die of stroke. Of the survivors, half are permanently disabled. About 30 percent of strokes are caused by narrowings in the carotid arteries (the main blood vessels that supply the brain).
Surgical treatment (bypass surgery or endarterectomy) is the standard therapy for carotid artery blockages. In healthy patients this operation has been proven to be safe and effective.
A new procedure is called carotid artery stenting, much like balloon angioplasty and stent placement elsewhere in the body. A stent is placed through a small catheter or tube that enters the body through a blood vessel near the groin. The procedure is offered to patients who are at higher risk than usual for surgery (advanced age, severe heart or lung disease, prior neck surgery, etc.). Patients are observed in the hospital overnight, and then go home the next day to resume normal activity.
A narrowed carotid artery before stenting
The artery is open after stenting
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