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Carotid Artery Disease, Carotid Stenosis Treatment Options- MGH

Carotid Artery Disease

What is Carotid Artery Disease?

The carotid arteries are the two major arteries in the neck, located on either side of the windpipe, that provide most of the blood supply to the brain. Over time, these arteries may become narrowed or blocked due to a process called atherosclerosis or "hardening of the arteries". The buildup may obstruct the blood flow to the brain, leading to a stroke or a "mini" stroke (TIA).

Carotid artery disease is the cause of more than half of all strokes. Stroke, in turn, is the third highest cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the United States.

Why carotid stenosis occurs in some people but not others is unknown. However, certain risk factors, such as family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, smoking, and obesity, predispose some people to the condition.

How is Carotid Artery Disease Treated?

Mild carotid artery disease can sometimes be treated with medication and risk factor modification such as smoking cessation and reduction of cholesterol levels, and monitored for progression to a more severe form.

More severe cases of carotid artery disease is usually treated with an operation called carotid endarterectomy. In certain individuals a minimally invasive procedure called carotid stenting may be possible.


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