Carotid Artery Disease and Stroke Prevention

  • Vascular Surgery
  • Medical Center Campus
  • Main Pavilion, Level 5
  • 111 Colchester Avenue
    Burlington, VT, 05401
  • Phone: 802-847-4548
  • 1-877-817-5030
  • Monday-Friday, 8 AM-5 PM
  • Directions

Carotid artery disease, also known as carotid occlusive disease or carotid stenosis, occurs when the major arteries in the neck become narrowed or blocked due to fatty build-up or plaques.

Risk factors for carotid artery disease include:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Aging: risk for the condition increases as you age
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • A family history of atherosclerosis or stroke

Diagnosis of Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid artery disease in the early stages may not produce any symptoms. The first signal you have the disease may be a mini-stroke known as a transient ischemic attack or TIA. The warning signs for TIA include:

  • Sudden numbness, weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
  • Slurred speech
  • Losing vision in one eye

If you experience any of these warning signs, even if only for a few minutes, you should seek medical attention immediately.

The process of diagnosis may involve the following:

  • Physical exam - Your physician will conduct a full medical history and physical exam. He or she will listen for sounds of turbulent blood flow in your carotid arteries.
  • Carotid duplex ultrasound - With this test, a vascular technician holds a small ultrasound probe to your neck. High-frequency sound waves emitted by the probe bounce off the blood cells and vessels.

Treatment of Carotid Artery Disease

The goal in treating carotid artery disease is to prevent stroke. The type of treatment that is right for you will depend on the severity of your condition, your general health and the presence or lack of symptoms.

Non-Surgical Treatments

  • Lifestyle Changes
  • Improving diet and exercise
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Medications

Surgical Treatments

If your carotid artery disease is severe, or if you've already experienced a TIA or stroke, surgery may be necessary.

  • Carotid endarterectomy - This is the most common surgical procedure for carotid artery disease, with low risk for otherwise healthy patients.
  • Carotid angioplasty and stenting - This is a newly developed minimally invasive procedure for treating carotid artery disease. It may be recommended for patients experiencing symptoms who are considered at high risk for surgical endarterectomy.

Fletcher Allen Received the Silver Plus Performance Achievement Award Hospital from the American Heart Association / American Stroke Association. The care our patients receive at Fletcher Allen is our number one priority. That's why we're proud to be among the hospitals recognized by the American Heart Association / American Stroke Association's Get With The Guidelines® for our excellence in improving quality of patient care and outcomes.