Resources

Q

What are the carotid arteries?

A

Your carotid arteries are the arteries on either side of the neck that supply blood to the head and brain. When plaque builds up inside these artery walls, blockages may form. These blockages restrict the flow of blood and may put you at risk for a stroke. Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States, and although strokes have different causes, 20 percent of all strokes are caused by blockages in the carotid arteries.

Q

Am I at risk for a stroke?

A

You may be at risk for a stroke if you have any of the following:

  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes

You also may be at risk if you have a family history of stroke or if you are:

  • Over 65 years old
  • African-American
  • Overweight
  • A smoker
Q

What is carotid arterial stenting?

A

Carotid arterial stenting is a non-invasive procedure used to open carotid arteries clogged by plaque. During the procedure, doctors use X-rays to guide a catheter in the skin and to the carotid artery. A balloon then is inflated to open up the artery. A small, flexible tube made of plastic or wire, called a stent, then is inserted into the artery to keep the artery open.

Q

Am I a candidate for carotid stenting?

A

You may be a candidate for carotid arterial stenting if you are at a high risk for surgery or if you have narrow arteries that are difficult to reach and treat with surgery. If you have blockage of a carotid artery and one or more of the risk factors listed below, carotid stenting may be the best treatment option for you.

  • Previous carotid surgery
  • Previous neck cancer surgery
  • Previous neck radiation therapy
  • Artery blockage near head or chest
  • Complete blockage of the opposite carotid artery
  • Severe lung disease
  • Severe heart disease