Overview of the Carotid Artery Disease & Stroke Prevention Program
The Carotid Artery Disease & Stroke Prevention Program is a cross-functional program between the Heart & Vascular Institute and the Neurological Institute, treating blockages of the carotid artery, which are a frequent cause of stroke. The carotid arteries are the large arteries of the neck.
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
The program treats patients in the acute phases of carotid artery disease, as well as providing continuous long-term care for patients who have carotid artery disease, or have experienced strokes.
The narrowing of the carotid arteries is a significant cause of ischemic stroke; ischemic means a restriction in blood supply to tissues. Stroke results in reduction of blood flow to the brain, causing brain tissue to die. The underlying cause is the accumulation of calcium, or of lipid plaque due to high cholesterol. This accumulated material can also move into the brain’s blood circulation, causing damage.
Surgery may be necessary to remove blockages in high-risk patients. Surgery helps prevent stroke by restoring blood flow and preventing lipid plaque or calcium from entering the brain.
Diagnosis & Treatment of Carotid Artery Disease
Diagnosis of Carotid Artery Disease
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 the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi Emergency Department or the nearest hospital emergency facility.
Risk factors of developing carotid artery disease include:
- High blood pressure
- Tobacco smoking
- High blood cholesterol
- 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 computed tomography (CT scan) angiogram or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan are requested to assist in diagnosis.
Treatment 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 surgical options for treatment: carotid endarterectomy, and carotid stenting.
In carotid endarterectomy, the surgeon operates on the carotid artery to remove the material that has accumulated on the carotid artery wall.
In 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 is inserted to maintain the correct size.
Long-term follow-up care for stroke patients is provided by the multidisciplinary teams that operates cross-functionally between the Heart & Vascular Institute and Neurological Institute. Resources available to patients include rehabilitation and speech recovery programs.