New Procedure Provides Minimally Invasive Way to Prevent Stroke in Those At Risk

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa –October 29th is World Stroke Day. It’s meant to raise awareness about one of the leading causes of death. Stroke sufferers can be left debilitated for life. A new procedure could help prevent stroke for those at risk.

At 80 years old, David Yearian has avoided most health problem, but this spring he learned an artery was clogged in his neck. "I guess I never had a heart attack or anything, so I didn't think it was that serious."

Doctors told him the build-up of fatty deposits in his carotid artery could lead to stroke. "If you are symptomatic from your carotid, then your risk of having a stroke in the next 18 months is about 25%, fixing the artery lowers the risk in that same time-period to well below a fourth of that," said Douglas Massop, Vascular Surgeon at The Iowa Clinic.

To fix the artery, Yearian had a new procedure called TCAR, which is short for TransCarotid Artery Revascularization. The Iowa Clinic offers the minimally invasive procedure as an alternative to the traditional open surgery, which requires a large incision at the neck. It takes less than an hour and patients spend one night in the hospital for observation.

Dr. Massop explained the procedure. "This little tube goes inside the artery right there, and this circuit comes down, and we put a catheter in the vein down here, and make the blood literally run backwards in the artery. So, when we're working on the artery up here, blood, instead of going towards the brain, actually comes back from the groin and goes through the filter system and minimizes the risk of stroke while we're working."

Yearian was back to his normal activities right away, and he doesn't even notice the small scar on his collarbone. "Once the bandage came off, I was ready to go."

Dr. Massop said you can lessen your risk of stroke by not smoking and controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol.

The American Stroke Association says to keep the word FAST in mind when looking for stroke symptoms.

F stands for face: ask the person to smile and see if one side of the face droops.

A is for arms: ask the person to raise both arms and look to see if one drifts downward.

S is for speech: ask them to repeat a simple phrase to see if speech is slurred or strange.

T is for time: call 9-1-1 immediately if you notice any of these signs.