Love Your Heart: Carotid artery stents

Love Your Heart: Carotid artery disease

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A new medical procedure can minimize the risk of stroke for those needing carotid artery stents.

The carotid arteries supply blood to your head. Carotid artery disease can narrow your internal arteries, which may decrease blood flow to half of the brain. You have two carotid arteries, one on either side of your neck. They supply blood to your head and your brain. But sometimes, the arteries may narrow.

"Population is similar, elderly people who have atherosclerosis, diabetics, hypertension and if you have a family history of heart disease," said Dr. Anil Chhabra, an interventional cardiologist at Willis-Knighton.

As the artery narrows, the pressure within the artery increases, which could cause plaque to rupture causing blood clots to form, which can be extremely dangerous.

"We now have a procedure where can actually put a stent within the artery that covers the plaque up and reduces the risk of stroke," Dr. Chhabra said.

To open a narrowed carotid artery, doctors may place in a small, expandable stent in the narrowed artery.

"Keeps the plaque from breaking loose and improves the blood flow to the brain," Dr. Chhabra said.

The procedure is minimally invasive, the patient is given only a local anesthetic and a small incision in their leg. The patient often goes home the next day.

In certain cases, a doctor may recommend open heart surgery, but the results are similar.

"At this point, it is comparable to 15 years, 10 years in terms of blockage building back up," Dr. Chhabra said.

There's even a new technique Willis-Knighton offers to help fix the blockages.

"There's a newer surgical technique these days where you can actually go directly into the carotid artery instead of through the leg, but that's again a semi-surgical procedure," Dr. Chhabra said.

Doctors will consult with you to decide which procedure is best for you.

Carotid artery disease has no symptoms. If you're concerned, have your doctor listen to your neck with a stethoscope. If there's narrowing, there will be a specific noise, called a BRUIT, that indicates you may have a blockage. Doctors will then use an ultrasound to determine the severity of the blockage.

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