Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The goal in treating carotid artery disease is to prevent stroke. Specific treatments depend on the extent of blockage in your carotid arteries.

If blockage is mild to moderate, your doctor may recommend:

  • Lifestyle changes to slow the progression of atherosclerosis. Recommendations may include quitting smoking, losing weight, eating healthy foods, reducing salt and exercising regularly.
  • Medication to control blood pressure or lower cholesterol. Your doctor may also recommend taking a daily aspirin or other blood-thinning medication to prevent blood clots.

If blockage is severe, or if you've already had a TIA or stroke, your doctor may recommend removing the blockage from the artery. The options include:

  • Carotid endarterectomy, the most common treatment for severe carotid artery disease. After making an incision along the front of your neck, the surgeon opens the affected carotid artery and removes the plaques. The artery is repaired with either stitches or a graft.
  • Carotid angioplasty and stenting, if the blockage is too difficult to reach with carotid endarterectomy or you have other health conditions that make surgery too risky. You are given local anesthesia and a tiny balloon is threaded by catheter to the area of the clog. The balloon is inflated to widen the artery, and a small wire mesh coil (stent) is inserted to keep the artery from narrowing again.
Jul. 19, 2014

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