08 May 2004

Good News For Stroke Candidates

The May 8 issue of the Lancet carries good news for patients prone to have stroke attacks.

A surgical procedure known as carotid endarterectomy (CEA), which aims to clear up narrowings of the carotid arteries has been shown to decrease stroke risk by 50 percent in patients without recent neurological symptoms. In short, CEA can prevent
stroke onset from happening.

Alison Halliday, consultant vascular surgeon, of the St George's Hospital Medical School in London, and lead author of the Lancet article, said that in a trial of 3,000 patients in 126 hospitals in 30 countries, she and her colleagues found that surgery halved the risk of stroke from 12 to 6 percent in high-risk patients after a five-year follow-up. Most of these patients were under 75. Anyone with a blockage in the artery of between 70 and 90 percent would be a candidate for surgery, according to Halliday. Blockages occur in the carotid artery just as they do in arteries linked with heart attack.

Prophylactic carotid endarterectomy, anyone?

Using Doppler and ultrasound, carotid artery thickening can be detected. Finding out if you have significant narrowing can make you eligible for the operation and purposely eliminate any future stroke risk you might have.

This is good news, guys. Second to ischemic heart disease, stroke is the leading cause of death worldwide according to WHO. It is also among the five most important causes of disability and occurs when a blockage stops the flow of blood to the brain. It is also largely preventable with efforts to reduce blood pressure and raised cholesterol levels.

Who are at risk? Who else, but the usual suspects.

People who have high blood pressure, who smoke, who have diabetes or have high cholesterol have an increased risk of stroke.

The following image would further enlighten you on the other risk factors:

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