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Angioplasty an Option for Clogged Brain Arteries

Procedure prevents stroke in those who don't respond to medication

THURSDAY, Feb. 5, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Angioplasty clears clogged brain arteries and prevents stroke in people who fail to respond to medication.

The finding is being presented Feb. 5 at the American Stroke Association's annual meeting in San Diego.

Angioplasty uses a tiny balloon that's inserted into the area of blockage in an artery. Once it's at the blockage point, the balloon is inflated and expands, forcing fatty plaque against the artery wall and opening the artery. While commonly used to open blocked heart arteries, angioplasty is not widely used to clear neck and brain arteries.

The Stanford University Medical Center study included 36 people with significant narrowing of a brain blood vessel (intracranial stenosis). All the patients had failed to respond to medication.

Before angioplasty, stenosis in these patients averaged 84.2 percent. After angioplasty, average stenosis was 43.3 percent. One patient suffered ischemic stroke during the angioplasty but recovered.

Two of the patients died within a month of the angioplasty, one due to vessel perforation and one due to reperfusion hemorrhage. Among the 34 remaining patients, the annual stroke rate in the areas of angioplasty was 3.36 percent and the annual rate for all strokes was 5.38 percent.

"One would expect 8 percent to 10 percent of these patients to have suffered a stroke in the territory of angioplasty annually had they been treated with medication," study author Dr. Michael P. Marks, an associate professor of radiology and neurosurgery and chief of interventional neuroradiology at Stanford, says in a prepared statement.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about stroke.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Feb. 5, 2004
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