The two large blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood through your neck to your brain are your carotid arteries. If you have carotid artery disease, these arteries are clogged with plaque, which can reduce blood flow to your brain and increase your risk of having a stroke.
What makes carotid artery disease so serious is that you might not even realize your arteries are blocked until you have a stroke. The good news is that carotid artery disease can be treated to help reduce your risk of serious complications, such as transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) or strokes.
If you have carotid artery disease and are at risk of having a stroke, the board-certified, fellowship-trained vascular surgeons at Vascular Specialists may recommend carotid stenting. Here’s how the procedure works.
The goal of carotid stenting is to expand your carotid artery and restore proper blood flow in areas that are blocked by plaque. The surgical team at Vascular Specialists often performs carotid stenting in conjunction with another procedure called angioplasty.
Angioplasty uses a medical-grade balloon to inflate the narrowed artery. Then your surgeon inserts a thin wire mesh tube (the stent) through a catheter into the artery. Once released, the stent expands. Even after the angioplasty balloon is removed, the stent remains in place permanently and keeps your artery open so blood flows properly to your brain.
This procedure serves two important purposes. It reduces your risk of strokes and TIAs, and it increases blood flow so your brain receives adequate oxygen and nutrients. It’s also less invasive than carotid endarterectomy.
Even though the stent keeps your artery open and reduces your risk of a stroke, our doctors recommend steps to reduce your risk factors for carotid artery disease. Eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, manage high blood pressure and high cholesterol, stop smoking, and take all medications as prescribed.
Carotid angioplasty and stenting can play a big role in reducing your risk of having a stroke, but this procedure isn’t for everyone. Depending on the severity of your blockage, you may or may not benefit from surgery.
In general, doctors recommend carotid angioplasty and stenting for people who have:
During your appointment, our team reviews your symptoms, your medical history, and any imaging tests, such as ultrasounds, magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), computerized tomography angiography (CTA), and carotid angiography. These tests provide invaluable information about your arteries.
Depending on the location and severity of your blockages, we recommend the right treatment. Some circumstances may warrant carotid endarterectomy rather than stenting.
Due to the nature of the procedure, there is a bit of preparation required. One of the most important parts of carotid stenting is to take blood-thinning medication to reduce the risk of blood clots.
During your pre-op appointment, we review specific instructions, including what medications you need to take before your procedure, what medications (if any) you need to pause before surgery, and what to expect after your procedure.
If you’ve been diagnosed with carotid artery disease and want to explore ]the possibilities of stroke prevention with stenting, contact Vascular Specialists in Tinley Park or Evergreen Park, Illinois. You can reach either office at 815-824-4406 or book through our website.