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Stroke Worries? There’s A Test For That

February 3, 2011

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — New research proves it: testing for blocked neck arteries only necessary for people with stroke risk factors, according to newly released guidelines.

Experts agree there isn’t sufficient evidence of benefit for widespread screening. “However, if your doctor hears abnormal blood flow when listening to your neck arteries, or if you have two or more risk factors for stroke (such as high cholesterol or a family history), then it is a reasonable approach,” Jonathan L. Halperin, M.D., Professor of Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, was quoted as saying.

Stroke risk factors include age, family history of stroke, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, atrial fibrillation, physical inactivity, sickle cell disease and other heart or blood vessel diseases.

Experts also noted that two often competing procedures are used to restore adequate blood flow to the brain past severely narrowed arteries. In carotid endarterectomy, used for half a century, plaque buildup is surgically removed. In stenting, which has been available for about 15 years, a balloon catheter is inserted to open the vessel and a metal mesh tube (stent) is left in place to keep the blood vessel open.

After reviewing the evidence, including two recent head-to-head comparisons, the writing committee concluded that both approaches are reasonable and safe when arteries are more than 50 percent blocked.

“The risks of these procedures have fallen considerably, but you need to make sure you have very experienced practitioners performing the latest techniques,” Halperin said.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, February 2011




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