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Stenting Riskier for Older Patients With Blocked Carotid Artery
Date:9/11/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 10 (HealthDay News) -- For patients aged 70 and older who have a blocked neck artery, inserting a stent to reopen the artery is riskier than surgically widening the artery, a new study finds.

But for younger patients, stenting may be a viable option, the researchers say.

The carotid arteries, located on each side of the neck, are the major supplier of blood to the brain. When they become blocked or narrowed -- a condition known as carotid stenosis -- strokes can result.

Earlier research found that treating carotid stenosis with stenting raised the risk of stroke more than surgery to widen the artery (endarterectomy). But in this new study, British researchers determined that the risk of stenting is age-related.

"For patients with recent relevant symptoms who need treatment for carotid stenosis, surgery should be the first choice in older patients," said researcher Dr. Martin M. Brown, professor of stroke medicine at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and Institute of Neurology at the University College London in the United Kingdom.

In patients 70 and older, "stenting was on average about twice as likely to cause a stroke or kill the patient as carotid endarterectomy," Brown said.

"In contrast, in patients younger than 70, the risk of stroke or death associated with stenting was half that of older patients and was very similar to the risk of surgical carotid endarterectomy," Brown added. "In younger patients, stenting might be a suitable alternative to carotid surgery," he concluded.

"Interestingly, the risk of stroke or death with surgical carotid endarterectomy did not alter substantially with age," Brown noted.

For the study, published in the Sept. 10 online edition of The Lancet, Brown and colleagues studied three trials that included 3,433 patients who had symptoms of carotid stenosis. In each tri
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