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Are You at Risk for Stroke?

Are You at Risk for Stroke?

Local Vascular Surgeon Talks About Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid artery disease occurs when the arteries that lead to the brain become narrowed, usually due to plaque buildup along the artery walls. This can block the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain, dramatically increasing the chances of having a stroke. Unfortunately, many people may not realize they are at risk. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in this country, according to the American Stroke Association,

“Stroke is a major cause of death and disability,” said Dr. Stella Asuquo, a vascular surgeon with the Washington Township Medical Foundation. “It’s important for people to know their risk, because there are ways to reduce it through lifestyle choices and medical management.”

Dr. Asuquo will provide more details during her upcoming talk titled, “Carotid Artery Disease: What is it? How Can We Treat it?” on Tuesday, May 2, at 1:30 p.m. The free online seminar will take place on Facebook and YouTube. For more information or to register, visit or call 800.963.7070.

She will explain how plaque buildup in the arteries can lead to stroke. Plaque is a fatty, waxy substance that forms deposits on the artery wall. Over time, this buildup begins to narrow the arteries. It can also break off and create a blockage. “I’ll review the risk factors that contribute to carotid artery disease,” she added. “Diet, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol are a few of them. I would guess a lot of people in our community are at risk.”

Dr. Asuquo will also cover some of the lifestyle changes people can make to reduce their risk as well as some of the medical options available today. “There are medications that can keep these risk factors under control,” she said. “For example, drugs that reduce cholesterol can help prevent stroke. If you have been prescribed these medications, it’s important to take them as advised.”

Treatment Options

“When there is a significant amount of narrowing, it’s time for an intervention,” Dr. Asuquo stressed. “I’ll discuss the major treatment options, including carotid endarterectomy, where we actually clean out the plaque, as well as angioplasty and stenting.”

Dr. Asuquo will also talk about a newer procedure called Transcarotid artery revascularization – or TCAR. Washington Hospital was the first hospital in the Bay Area to offer the minimally invasive procedure.

TCAR is done through a small incision in the neck. It uses a reverse flow system so blood is temporarily reversed during the procedure, causing any plaque that breaks off to flow away from the brain. “With traditional procedures to open a blocked carotid artery, there is an associated risk of clots going to the brain and causing a stoke,” Dr. Asuquo explained. “TCAR reduces that risk.”

This seminar is for anyone who thinks they or someone they know could be at risk for carotid artery disease. You will gain a much better understanding of your stroke risk as well as prevention and treatment options.

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