Surgery to Widen Neck Arteries Cuts 10-Year Stroke Risk: Study

Business Week

For people whose carotid arteries have become narrowed, restricting blood flow to the brain, having a surgical procedure to widen them reduces the risk of stroke over a 10-year period, British researchers report.

The carotid artery -- one on either side of the neck -- supplies blood carrying oxygen to the head, so a procedure to widen it helps restore blood flow to the brain. However, the operation, called a carotid endarterectomy, has about a 3 percent risk of causing an immediate stroke, the researchers cautioned.

For some elderly patients, this risk may outweigh any long-term benefit. But older, healthy patients will likely benefit from the procedure, the study authors noted.

However, Dr. Larry B. Goldstein, professor of neurology and director of the Duke Stroke Center at Duke University Medical Center, who was not involved in the study, suggested that the benefits might be smaller than they appeared in the study.

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