Like coronary arteries, blood vessels that take deoxygenated blood to the brain also develop atherosclerosis (buildup of fats and cholesterol on the artery).  Over time, the vessels narrow, decreasing blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke. If you live near Evergreen Park, carotid stenting is available through Vascular Specialists to widen the blood channels, so the brain gets sufficient oxygen.

Carotid Angiography

Also known as an arteriogram, it is an x-ray imaging procedure to detect blockage in the arteries and predict the risk of stroke. It is performed after carotid artery disease is suspected. The doctor uses dye to make carotid arteries show on an x-ray image.

Carotid Angioplasty and Stenting

It is performed after detecting blockage from the x-ray the same day or after some weeks and only if the patient meets the eligibility criteria. The surgeon places a tiny wire mesh tube called a stent into the affected artery to widen the channel. The stent is inserted into a large artery, like the femoral, to access the carotid arteries placed on each side of the neck. A balloon is guided to the area of blockage and inflated. Consequently, the fatty plaque is compressed against artery walls to improve blood flow. The procedure has a short recovery time as it can be performed while the patient is awake.

Carotid Angiography Procedure

It takes 1 to 2 hours. The doctor may recommend medication such as heparin to minimize the risk of a blood clot. He may also prescribe aspirin a few days before the procedure and some weeks after the procedure. The doctor will also give instructions on other medications that should be taken or not taken before the procedure. The area where the sheath will be inserted is numbed.

Some patients might require a second sheath in the leg or arm to place a temporary pacemaker that regulates heart rhythm during the procedure. In severe blockage, surgery may be recommended.

The doctor recommends medication to ease discomfort after the procedure. One might be required to spend a night at the hospital for evaluation of the outcome. One is also given instructions about diet and activity. You should climb stairs at a slow pace and avoid straining during bowel movements.


Risks include infection, damage of the vessel at the insertion site, stroke, heart attack, or even death. That is why it is essential to consult your doctor who evaluates whether you qualify for stenting. The risk is dependent on the overall health and age. It is not suitable for people over 70 years. The best alternative, in this case, is carotid artery surgery.

Staying healthy

To avoid the recurrence of plaque building up, it is recommended you:

·  Exercise regularly. Focus more on aerobic exercises.

·   Quit smoking.

·  Avoid foods high in fat, cholesterol, and calories.

·  Follow the doctor’s instructions to thin blood and take medication as required.

The decision to have a carotid stent differs from person to person. Let your doctor decide by evaluating the risks and benefits. If you are at risk of a stroke, contact Vascular Specialists, and learn of the different types of treatments available. They deal with all types of vascular diseases.