Mayo Clinic doctors trained in heart and blood vessel conditions (cardiologists), blood vessel surgery (vascular surgeons), brain conditions (neurologists), brain surgery (neurosurgeons) and other doctors evaluate and treat carotid artery disease. Your treatment team will evaluate you to determine which treatment may be most appropriate for you.
Your treatment may depend on your age, your symptoms, your general health and the severity of your condition. Your doctor will work with you to develop your treatment plan.
- Carotid angioplasty and stenting. If you have a high surgical risk, doctors may not consider you to be a candidate for surgery. However, you may be a candidate for carotid angioplasty and stenting. In this procedure, you receive local anesthesia, and then your doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube (catheter) with a balloon on the tip in a blood vessel in your neck or groin and threads it to the carotid artery. Your doctor inflates the balloon in the narrowed or blocked artery and inserts a small mesh tube (stent) through the catheter into the opening, to keep your artery from becoming narrowed or blocked after the procedure. You may have less discomfort, smaller incisions and a shorter recovery time in this procedure compared open surgery.
- Carotid endarterectomy. If you're experiencing symptoms or if you have more than 50 percent blockage in your arteries, your doctor may recommend carotid endarterectomy. In this procedure, you receive local or general anesthesia. Your surgeon makes an incision along the front of your neck, opens your carotid artery and removes the plaques. Your surgeon then repairs the artery with sutures or a graft.
- Lifestyle changes. If you have mild carotid artery disease or the risk of carotid artery disease, making lifestyle changes may keep your condition from developing or becoming worse. Your doctor will discuss eating a healthy diet, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking with you.
- Medications. You may need medications to treat high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol or other conditions. Your doctor may also prescribe aspirin or other anti-clotting medications.
- Follow-up care. Your doctor will recommend follow-up appointments to monitor your condition.