Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery
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Questions every patient should ask their doctor
prior to signing a consent for vascular intervention.

Sponsored by the SCVS Ad Hoc Committee on Patient Advocacy.

Carotid Artery Occlusive Disease

  1. What is a “light stroke”?
    • Stroke symptoms that resolve over a relatively short period of time
    • TIA – transient ischemic attack, symptoms last less than 24 hours
    • Symptoms most often consist of right arm/leg or left arm/left leg weakness or numbness Symptoms also include slurring of speech, facial asymmetry, and blindness in one eye.
    • It is a warning symptom for a major stroke
    • Pain is not a symptom of stroke
  2. Is dizziness of sign of stroke?
    • Dizziness or a lightheaded feeling is rarely by itself a sign of stroke
    • Dizziness may be caused by several factors including heart problems, problems with the ear, or problems inside the brain itself.
    • It can in rare instances be caused by a blockage in the artery that goes to the back of the brain
  3. What is amaurosis fugax?
    • Amaurosis Fugax is a fleeting blindness in one eye only
    • It usually lasts only a few minutes
    • It is a warning symptom of a possible stroke
    • It never involves both eyes at the same time
    • Blockage in the carotid artery does not produce blurring of vision in both eyes
    • Rarely, blurred vision may be caused by a blockage in the artery going to the back of the brain
  4. If I have a light stroke, what are my chances of having a permanent stroke if I don’t have treatment?
    • Your chances of having a stroke depend on the degree of blockage in your carotid artery
    • If blockage is greater than 70% your risk of having a stroke is 36% over 5 years, with 18%, about 1 in 5 occurring within the first year.
  5. Which is the best procedure, surgery or a stent?
    • Risk of stroke with surgery should be 1-2%. Risk of stroke with stent reported in recent study was 4.2%
    • Risk of heart attack was higher with surgery, but heart attacks were usually very mild and rarely resulted in permanent problems.
  6. How much blockage is significant?
    • If you do not have any symptoms, a 60% or greater blockage is considered to be significant
    • The more blockage you have the greater your risk of stroke.
    • If you have had symptoms, a 50% blockage is considered to be significant
  7. If I have to have a procedure performed, how quickly does it have to be done?
    • If should be performed as soon as reasonably possible. No one can predict when a permanent stroke will occur. It is, however, in general, not an emergency.
    • If you have symptoms, earlier intervention is recommended

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