Cartoid artery disease is a cause of patients developing a stroke / TIA (mini-stroke).
What is it
Stroke is one of the biggest cause of disability and death in the U.K. One of the causes of this is narrowing of the artery which supplies the brain (the internal carotid artery).
How is it diagnosed
In the majority of the cases the narrowing in the artery is diagnosed as part of the investigation in patient with stroke or mini-strokes(also known as transient ischaemic attack or TIA). In a small number of cases this is found if your G.P. or any other doctors listens to the artery in the neck and orders an ultrasound scan. Patients undergoing heart surgery also routinely have their necks scanned to look for a narrowing in the artery.
Why should I have it treated
A significant narrowing of the internal carotid artery can cause many symptoms including:
•Visual (eye ) disturbance also known as amaurosis fugax Asymptomatic (In some cases there are no symptoms)
The narrowing in the artery is treated to reduce the risk of the above symptoms. Treatment of the asymptomatic cases may be beneficial in certain case and your consultant can assess whether you would benefit from having this treated.
When should it be treated
Patients with symptomatic disease should be treated as soon as possible. Your consultant will make sure your blood pressure is controlled, start you on low dose aspirin ( or an alternative) as well as starting you on a statin (cholesterol lowering drug).
How can it be treated
If the narrowing is significant you will be offered surgical treatment. This includes
Open surgery: This is done either under local or general anaesthetic . It involves opening the artery and removing the narrowed part. There are risks associated with this procedure and this will be discussed with you by your consultant.
Carotid stent: this is the minimally invasive option. However the result generally of this procedure are inferior compared to open surgery.