You might want to get a second opinion. There are stents and other ways to unclog a carotid artery. My mother in law who was 75 yrs old at the time had both carotid arteries severely blocked and they talked about "opening them up" or using stents, but she also had severe blockages of the arteries going to her heart and the doctors felt it was more important to give her a bypass the doctors said that they were more afraid of her having a severe fatal heart attack at any time. So they opted for the bypass and left the carotid arteries alone.
I don't like that you were told "nothing can be done". Get a second opinion.
I read your post, and I don't understand the attitude that nothing can be done, either. Do you have a cardiologist? Today almost anything can be done, and at almost any age. If anything a transplant! Please keep us posted. Let me know if I can help, you will find me in the Transplant Forum. Don't give up I believe something can be done. Kande
There may not be anything YOU can do to unclog it. If you haven't already, get a consultation with a vascular surgeon. There may be something HE/SHE can do to unblock it. Probably would need an angiogram to determine the actual extent and location of the blockage.
My gf just had an 80% blockage cleared a few weeks ago. That's why I'm so darn knowledgeable about it. ;-)
When you were told nothing CAN be done, does that mean nothing SHOULD be done?
I suspect "should" would be the appropriate word. There are plenty of medical data that suggest that stents don't change life expectancy. The same may be true of bypass, but I am unaware of the data. My mother and two friends had 100% blockages, and all developed smaller blood vessels that "bypassed" the blockages on their own.
I have been impressed with a book by Arthur Agatston, the author of South Beach Diet as well as a renown cardiologist. His book "The South Beach Heart Program" he writes about aggressive prevention of heart disease. He also devotes some space to the issue you raise. He claims he rarely sees heart attacks among his patients who follow his program of aggressive prevention. He also claims people with heart disease can expect normal life expectancies if they do the right things to manage their disease.
In short, there are things you can do and it doesn't always mean cutting you open or placing a stent. Doing something might just mean managing your diet, cholesterol, blood pressure, and stress. Exercise is also included. That is a whole different scenario than doing nothing.
I am unclear regarding what link you are requesting. Here is a book review of the South Beach Heart Program.
You can also go to amazon.com or your local bookstore.
If your question was about the data regarding stents and longevity, I can only repeat what I learned from four cardiologists with whom I have consulted. (The reason for four is not because my health is all that complicated. It is because we live in a rural area and a group of six practice 150 miles away. I see whoever is available)
Each of these cardiologists have told me that stents can be life savers when they are absolutely necessary, particularly in an emergency. But treating heart disease with medications is as effective as with stents when it comes to longevity. They have told me that I may want to consider a stent if my 40-70% blockages start to interfere with my lifestyle--which now is fairly robust and active. So far, luckily, they have not.
I hope that answers your question.
Unfortunately what your dr. said is true. Once the carotid artery is 100% blocked there is not a thing you can do. I don't know why this is but it is true. My father suffered a stroke about 8 years ago and his carotid was 100% blocked and the other was 90% blocked. The were able to put a stent in the one that was 90% blocked but not the other. What the doctor told us that if it was 99% blocked they can go in and fix it but there is no way once it is 100% blocked. I don't know if this is true for all arteries or just the carotid. Good luck to you!!
I have very aggressive CAD and have had eight stents. However, several blockages could not receive a stent either because the occlusion was 100% or the vessel was too small to receive the stent. I also try and follow the South Beach Heart program by following the dietary suggestions and exercise, exercise, exercise, I've lost weight and avoid second hand smoke (I smoked as a younger person, I was an idiot). Those blockages that couldn't receive a stent have been bypassed by the smaller vessels as Sweetwaterguy suggests. That being said, I do suffer quite a lot of angina. I'd suggest you read the book. However, I would also suggest a second or third opinion. Jim Valvano, a terrific basketball coach who had cancer preached "Never give up"! Simple, but a very effective way of avoiding depression.
Best wishes to you. Keep us informed.
I was told a year ago that my carotid artery is 100% blocked. Unfortunately there is nothing they can do. I see a neurology and I saw a vascular surgeon. I broke down and cried for days. I was so depresse. I read everyones post and I feel your pain but I am only 37 years old. I am so young. I suffer many headaches and vision loss but they tell me they are not TIA strokes. This happens three to four times a day almost everyday. I know you are all worried about your loved ones as you should. They wont all get the headaches. I have other major blockages in my arteries in my neck but they want to wait and not stent because of my age. The joy of youth. Some days are harder than others but we will all get by. Maybe sameday there may have a cure for us with these blockages.
I'm not sure about your hospital, but this happens a few times if there are no real experts available on site. My hospital used to only have a cardiac ward, and patients were shipped to and from other specialist hospitals for treatment. The problem is, the real expertise was in those other hospitals, to the right decisions were not always made. Now however, the hospital has grown a lot on the cardiology front. I'm wondering if other surgeons would have the same opinion if you approach them. I've even been in a situation where I've searched for an expert, written them a letter and they've requested my notes from my hospital. If I hadn't done this, then I would still have a blocked left coronary artery. Several Cardiologists at several hospitals told me that the job was impossible, so I wrote to professors at some research and teaching hospitals. This is how I got treated. It turned out very good for all parties, because the cardiologists who said it was impossible were all invited to attend the procedure and learn something, which they did.
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