News Release

November 16, 2004

Contact: Maureen McGuire, 860-679-4523

New Procedure to Prevent Stroke

Michael S. Dahn, M.D., Is First in Connecticut to Offer Carotid Angioplasty with FDA-Approved System

FARMINGTON, CONN. – A new procedure to prevent strokes in patients with carotid artery disease is now offered at the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

Endovascular surgeon Michael S. Dahn, M.D., is the first in Connecticut to offer patients carotid angioplasty using an FDA-approved system to unblock and reopen blockages in the carotid artery with balloon angioplasty and stenting.

The carotid arteries are the main blood supply to the brain. If they become clogged with plaque and fatty build-up, patients are at serious risk for stroke.

For several years, surgeons have offered patients, endarterectomy, a surgical procedure to remove blockages in the carotid artery. Carotid angioplasty, however, is a minimally invasive procedure and is therefore easier on patients, especially people who may not be good candidates for surgery, and allows for shorter recovery periods, Dr. Dahn said.

“The complication risk for carotid angioplasty is substantially lower than for carotid surgery for patients who may also be suffering from cardiac and respiratory disorders. Furthermore, older patients seem to fare better with minimally invasive carotid angioplasty,” Dr. Dahn explained.

A recent article and editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine stated that carotid artery stenting is just as effective as endarterectomy. In addition, several studies have found carotid artery stenting to be an effective treatment.

“We are encouraged by the positive clinical data for carotid stenting when used for high-risk patients,” Dr. Dahn added.

In carotid angioplasty, a balloon is attached to a catheter that is inserted in the groin artery and threaded through the arteries to the narrowed carotid artery. The balloon at the end of the catheter is inflated to open the narrowed area, and a metal stent is left in place to keep the artery open. Patients are awake during the procedure and usually go home the next day. In addition, the procedure is performed with a cerebral protection device which reduces the risk of stroke during these maneuvers.

Dr. Dahn is using a carotid stenting system made by Guidant Corporation, a world leader in the design and development of cardiovascular medical products. The Guidant carotid angioplasty system was approved by the FDA in August of 2004.

Compared to open surgery, carotid angioplasty offers the following advantages:

  • No general anesthesia
  • Avoids possible surgical complications such as nerve injury and wound infection
  • Takes less time
  • Less discomfort
  • Smaller incision
  • Shorter recovery time
  • Treats narrow arteries that are hard to reach with surgery

About Carotid Artery Disease and Stroke
Blockages in the carotid artery can cause symptoms. Some patients experience transient ischemic attack (TIA) that can cause symptoms such as temporary weakness, numbness or difficulty speaking. The symptoms typically last less than 24 hours and patients usually recover completely. This however, is a red flag that the carotid artery may be blocked.

Other times, patients show no symptoms. However, blood flowing through a narrowed artery may cause a noise that can be heard when a stethoscope is placed on the neck – so early detection is possible.

To reduce your risk of stroke:

  • If you experience symptoms similar to a TIA, seek medical attention immediately. Be sure to receive follow-up care with a specialist. Your doctor may prescribe specific medications or consider surgery to remove fatty deposits from the carotid artery.
  • Know your numbers! High blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke. Talk to your physician about your blood pressure and what can be done to help you reach optimal numbers.
  • High blood sugar can elevate your risk of stroke. If you have diabetes, work closely with your health care provider to stay in good control.
  • Heart disease also increases the risk of stroke. Work with your physician to determine your risk and control factors such as cholesterol disorders.
  • Do not smoke! Smoking is devastating to the blood vessels and is a serious risk factor for stroke.
  • Obesity is also a major risk factor. Work with your physician to find a weight loss plan that works for you.
  • Get moving! A sedentary lifestyle also contributes to the risk of stroke. Find a realistic exercise for your lifestyle and interests.
  • Also, excessive alcohol intake and illegal drug use are risk factors.

For more information, contact Dr. Dahn at 860-679-3540 or 800-535-6232.

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