Don’t Let Carotid Artery Disease Lead to Stroke

Older woman smiling

Despite being one of the leading causes of stroke, many people do not know they have carotid artery disease until they actually experience stroke symptoms. That is why understanding this disease—and how to prevent and treat it—are so important.

Delivering Blood to Your Brain

The carotid arteries are the two major blood vessels on both sides of the neck that carry blood to your brain. Carotid artery disease occurs when one or both become blocked, usually due to a build-up of cholesterol plaque. This can lead to a stroke.

Learning You Have Carotid Artery Disease

When a carotid artery is narrowed, it’s possible your doctor may hear a whooshing sound while listening to your neck with a stethoscope. Usually, however, symptoms don’t appear until a carotid artery is fully or nearly blocked. At that point, a stroke is often the first sign of the disease.

How is Carotid Artery Disease Treated?

How carotid artery disease is treated depends on the amount of blockage present and a person’s overall health. Most people are prescribed medication to prevent blood clots and lower their cholesterol. They are also advised to make healthy lifestyle choices like not smoking, being active, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating foods low in saturated fats.

If a blockage is more severe, a variety of surgical options may be recommended to enhance blood flow through the carotid artery to the brain and help prevent a stroke.

TCAR: A Clinically Proven, Innovative Procedure to Treat Carotid Artery Disease

TransCarotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR), a new, yet clinically proven, minimally invasive procedure is especially well-suited for patients who are at higher risk of surgical complications because of their age or health issues. TCAR greatly reduces the risk of having a stroke.

During TCAR, an advanced system temporarily reverses blood flow away from the brain while surgeons insert a stent in the carotid artery through a small incision in the lower neck. This prevents any fragments of plaque that may become loose during the procedure from entering the brain. TCAR has the lowest rate of stroke and further complications from surgery when compared to the open technique of removing plaque (termed carotid endarterectomy).

Know the Signs of Stroke

While the best treatment for stroke is always prevention, it’s important to know the signs of stroke and call 911 immediately if you notice:

  • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness or loss of movement in your face, arm, leg—especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Sudden trouble speaking
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements
  • Loss of coordination
  • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches

Make it a priority to learn these signs. You could save a life!

author name

Meghan Dermody MD, FACS

Meghan Dermody, MD, FACS, is a vascular surgeon with LG Health Physicians Surgical Group.

Education: Undergraduate–Syracuse University; Medical School–Georgetown University School of Medicine; Residency and Fellowship–Tufts Medical Center.

Call: 717-544-3626

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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