Overview of Program
Carotid artery disease and stroke prevention is a cross-functional program between the Heart & Vascular Institute and the Neurological Institute, treating blockages of the neck arteries that are a frequent cause of stroke.
As part of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s comprehensive stroke treatment program – and as the official stroke center for Abu Dhabi – Heart & Vascular Institute surgeons provide assessment and care for the vascular issues in stroke patients, or patients at risk of stroke. Surgery may be needed to remove blockages in high-risk patients.
The program treats patients in the acute phase, as well as providing continuous long-term care.
Narrowing of the large arteries of the neck (carotid arteries) is a significant cause of ischemic stroke, reducing blood flow to the brain and causing brain tissue to die. The underlying cause is the accumulation of lipid plaque (high cholesterol) or calcium, and this can move into the brain’s blood circulation, causing damage.
Surgery helps prevent stroke by restoring blood flow, and preventing lipid plaque or calcium from entering the brain.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Patients with carotid artery disease may experience short episodes of weakness in their arms or legs, on either the left or right side of the body. Inability to speak is another warning sign of stroke. Should these symptoms occur, the patient should immediately be brought to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi or the nearest hospital emergency facility.
Risk factors of developing carotid artery disease include high blood pressure, tobacco smoking, obesity, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, and an abnormal heart rhythm.
Patients who have suffered a stroke, or are considered high-risk, undergo a thorough vascular exam, including an ultrasound of the neck arteries. As necessary, a CT angiogram or MRI scan is also conducted.
Surgical options for carotid artery disease
Lifestyle changes and some medications can help reduce the risk of stroke. However, if a significant narrowing of the carotid artery is detected, the patient may need surgery. There are two options: carotid endarterectomy, and carotid stenting.
For carotid endarterectomy, the surgeon exposes the patient’s carotid artery to peel out the material attached to the artery wall.
For carotid stenting, a catheter is inserted into the patient’s groin area and threaded towards the carotid artery, where a balloon is used to expand the blood vessel and a metal stent inserted to maintain the correct size.
Long-term follow-up care for stroke patients is available cross-functionally between the Heart & Vascular Institute and Neurological Institute, including rehabilitation and speech recovery programs.
Carotid artery disease treatment is conducted by specialists from the Heart & Vascular Institute and the Neurological Institute, working in close cooperation. The care team includes:
- Endovascular surgeons
- Vascular surgeons
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is the official stroke center for Abu Dhabi, offering patients a full spectrum of options for diagnosis, treatment and recovery.