Depending on the severity of your carotid artery disease, the specialists at Northwestern Medicine may recommend a treatment plan that includes one or more of the following:
Modifying certain risk factors can prolong and improve the quality of your life. This may include taking steps to:
- Quit smoking: All nicotine products—including electronic cigarettes—constrict the blood vessels, which decreases blood flow through the arteries.
- Lower cholesterol: Eat a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. Eat plenty of vegetables, lean meats (avoid red meats), fruits and high-fiber grains. Avoid foods that are processed and high in saturated and trans-fats.
- Lower blood sugar: High blood sugar (glucose) can cause damage and inflammation to the lining of your carotid arteries. You can control glucose levels through a low-sugar diet.
- Exercise: Lack of exercise can cause weight gain and raise blood pressure and cholesterol. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight.
- Lower blood pressure: High blood pressure causes wear and tear and inflammation in blood vessels increasing the risk for artery narrowing. Blood pressure should be below 140/90 for most people.
Medicines may be used to treat your carotid artery disease. These may include:
- Antiplatelets: These medicines make platelets in the blood less able to stick together and cause clots.
- Cholesterol-lowering medicines: Statins are a group of cholesterol-lowering medicines. Studies have shown that certain statins can decrease the thickness of the carotid artery wall and increase the size of the opening of the artery.
- Blood pressure-lowering medicines
Surgical treatment for carotid artery disease may include:
- Carotid endarterectomy (CEA): This surgery removes plaque and blood clots from your carotid arteries. Endarterectomy may help prevent a stroke in people who have symptoms and a narrowing of 70 percent or more.
- Carotid artery angioplasty with stenting (CAS): This is an option if you are unable to have carotid endarterectomy. It uses a very small hollow tube, or catheter, that is threaded through a blood vessel in the groin to the carotid arteries. Once the catheter is in place, a balloon is inflated to open the artery and a stent is placed. A stent—a tiny mesh coil often made of a nickel titanium metal alloy—is then placed to prop open the carotid artery. The stent is permanent.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital Regenstein Center for Neurological CareLavin Family Pavilion259 East Erie Street, Floor 19Chicago, Illinois 60611place