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DLK234, March 14,  2021  5:32pm EST

Carotid endarterectomy decisions to make

Dear Friends,  After a very recent TIA, it was suggested that I look into Carotid Artery procedures to compress or remove plaque from my right carotid which is currently 68% blocked.   My left carotid has almost no plaque. There is no evidence, so far, of blockage in cardiac or other arteries and my blood work shows excellent lipid numbers and I do not have diabetes.  I do have chronic hypertension controlled for years with the same two medications. I would like very much to know about your experiences with carotid endarterectomy to open the artery and remove the plaque, which I find scary even though it seems, on reading about it, to be much more effective than stents?  I need to decide soon. A tentative date for surgery is only three weeks away (after I complete my COVID shots).

The specialist surgeon I talked with is at MASS GENERAL in Boston and she strongly recommends doing the carotid endarterectomy.  Since I already had the TIA (and a probable one 4 years earlier that my physician treated with statin and low dose asprin--however the % of plaque increased), the surgeon says this is the most direct way to get rid of the plaque and reduce my risk of stroke.  She quotes a 3% average risk of stoke after surgery and 5% for nerve damage in the neck.  She quotes a 35% risk of a stroke for me without this procedure.  I know I was lucky--the TIA was only 15 seconds long, I went right to the emergency room and all the tests indicate no damage.  But the next time could be like my young (in her 40s) aunt who 45 years ago had a massive stroke and never really recovered--dying a dozen years later. 

If anyone has any suggestions about jumping into this or what to look for in a surgeon, I would really appreciate it!  I've only had one C-section and a tonsellectomy.  Surgery and hospitals do scare me.  Thank you so much!

1 Reply
  • AHAModerator
    AHAModerator, March 14,  2021  6:01pm EST


    Thank you for joining the Support Network and sharing your story. We are glad you are here!

    I can't give you any specific medical advice as I am not a health care provider, but I encourage you to continue to discuss your options regarding the carotid endarterectomy with your full medical team. 

    As you hear from others about their experience, I hope that you can find a sense of community and support here and get some of the answers you are looking for.

    In the meantime, we have some resources on TIA and treatments that you may find useful: https://www.stroke.org/en/about-stroke/types-of-stroke/tia-transient-ischemic-attack

    We are here for you! Please keep us informed on your progress. 

    Best wishes,
    AHA Moderator

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