Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Each year approximately 750,000 Americans will have a stroke and of these nearly 160,000 will die. Of those who survive, stroke is a leading cause of serious disability with the following deficits: 48% will have arm or leg weakness; 22% will not be able to walk again; 25-50% will be completely or partially dependent on others for their activities of daily living; approximately 15% will lose their ability to talk and 30% are clinically depressed. These are worrisome statistics and highlight the need to identify those who may be at risk for stroke and to intervene to prevent this devastating medical condition.
Approximately one-third of strokes are caused by carotid occlusive disease, or hardening of the carotid arteries. The carotid arteries supply blood to the brain and any interruption in blood flow can lead to a stroke. Hardening of the arteries is a process known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a global process and can affect all arteries of the body. Risk factors for this disease include age, hypertension, family history, smoking, increased cholesterol or lipids, diabetes and renal failure. This is a silent disease process and often provides no warning signs or symptoms prior to a stroke. Symptoms can include arm or leg weakness or numbness, loss of vision in one eye, difficulties with speaking or decreased coordination.
As specialists in vascular disease, we are committed to identifying those at risk of having a stroke and providing treatment options to decrease the risk of stroke. Treatment options include medical management with risk factor control, minimally invasive catheter based therapies including carotid stenting, and surgical repair of the damaged arteries. Treatment options are individualized and based upon what is the best therapy for each patient. A key to stroke prevention is identifying those who have carotid disease. We utilize a painless, noninvasive Doppler test to evaluate the carotid arteries and to determine what treatment, if necessary, is needed to reduce one's risk of stroke.
The Michigan Vascular Center has actively promoted vascular health awareness and offers free ultrasound screenings to assess your risk of Stroke (see Vascular Screening on the right sidebar.
If you or a you, a parent or sibling has had a family history of vascular disease, discuss this with your primary care physician and call (810) 720-ASAP (2727) to see if you qualify for a free screening.