Carotid Artery Disease

The build-up of plaque in the major arteries of the neck is responsible for 30 percent of strokes. With strokes being the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., treating carotid artery disease is a priority for cardiologists. At one time, the only treatment options were medication, and if the blockage was severe enough, endarterectomy, a surgical procedure that involved cutting the carotid open and physically removing the plaque.

Over the last decade, UNC specialists have increasingly turned to less-invasive carotid stenting for treating carotid artery disease. In this procedure, a balloon-tipped catheter is inserted through a small incision in the groin and guided to the area of the narrowing or blockage, where the balloon is inflated, opening the artery. A stent is then placed into the area to hold the artery open.

Advantages of carotid stenting are many, perhaps the most important being the replacement of general anesthesia with a local anesthetic. There is also less recovery time, no pain at the site of the incision, less risk of damage to nerves in the neck, and a decreased chance of cardiac complications compared to surgery.

Because carotid artery disease is often only one of multiple conditions for many cardiology patients, part of our treatment protocol at UNC is the use of multi-disciplinary teams, in which several specialists work together to ensure the best possible treatment and outcome for each individual patient.

Contact Us

Call the Heart & Vascular Center referral line at 866-862-4327 to find specialists, make an appointment or learn more about preventing heart disease.

Open Access is a new physician referral service, created by the UNC Center for Heart & Vascular Care, which coordinates all admissions and transfers through a single phone call and guarantees immediate acceptance for patients. Please contact us to learn more or call 866-862-4327.

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