Carotid artery disease
A major cause of stroke
- By: Aida Lai, Charles N McCollum
Around 110 000 strokes and 20 000 transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs) occur in the UK alone every year, but because the importance of TIA symptoms might not be recognised by patients, this incidence could be a gross underestimate. About five per 1000 people aged 50-60 years and 10% of people older than 80 years have carotid stenosis greater than 50%.1Carotid artery disease is a common but potentially treatable cause of TIAs and strokes. It is therefore important to be able to recognise the signs and manage patients appropriately.
In this article we discuss the investigation and management of carotid artery stenosis, which often occurs in the context of a stroke or TIA. The complete investigation and management of acute stroke are outside the scope of this article.
Several pathological processes can affect the carotid artery. These include atherosclerosis, dissection, infection, connective tissue disease, and damage through trauma and radiotherapy.