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June 2009 Mayo Clinic Health Letter Highlights Probiotics, Carotid Artery and Breast Cancer Treatments
Date:7/7/2009

kness, numbness or paralysis on one side of the body that affects the face, arm or leg
  • Sudden blindness in one eye
  • Slurred or garbled speech or difficulty understanding others
  • Loss of balance or dizziness

  • Any of these conditions indicate a possible stroke and warrant immediate medical attention, even if the symptoms disappear. A doctor can evaluate the health of the carotid arteries with imaging studies and by listening to the blood flow, which has a swooshing sound when there's a partial blockage. Treatment options include:

    Lifestyle changes and medications: This is typically the approach when blockage is less than 60 percent, and no symptoms of stroke are apparent. The goal is to slow the atherosclerosis through exercise, stopping smoking, losing weight if needed, and eating a healthful diet.

    In addition, aspirin or blood-thinning medication can reduce the risk of blood clots.

    Carotid endarterectomy: This procedure is the most common surgical treatment for severe carotid artery disease. The surgeon makes an incision in the neck, opens the carotid artery and removes the buildup of plaque. When this procedure is performed by an experienced surgeon, the risks are low, even for otherwise healthy patients age 80 or older.

    Balloon angioplasty and stent placement: This procedure is an option for patients at high risk for carotid endarterectory. Patients may be precluded from surgery because of the location of the blockage, severe heart or lung disease or kidney disease.

    During angioplasty, the surgeon threads a long, hollow tube through the groin artery up to the narrowed carotid artery. A tiny balloon is inflated to open the blockage, and a stent is placed there to keep it open. Large studies are under way to determine if angioplasty might be safe and effective for
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