Cheating Death: Minimally Invasive Procedure Helps Reduce Man’s Serious Stroke Risk

By Meredith Whittemore

In some ways, Harold Peeples feels like he cheated death.

“When I saw the image of my carotid artery, it was scary. It looked like almost no blood was making it through and I felt like I could have a stroke any minute,” Peeples said.

Peeples had felt tired for an extended period of time. He visited his primary care physician who recommended additional testing after hearing an abnormal sound, or “bruit,” in the artery in Peeples’ neck. 

A CT scan discovered a major blockage in Peeples’ carotid artery. Peeples then met with Kousta Foteh, MD, a vascular surgeon affiliated with Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital, who diagnosed him with carotid stenosis, a narrowing of the carotid artery, one of the main arteries carrying blood to the brain. Carotid stenosis is a major cause of stroke.

“Unfortunately, many times people don’t know they have carotid stenosis until they have a stroke. Luckily, Harold’s primary care physician recognized something wasn’t right,” Dr. Foteh said.

Transcarotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR) Recommended

Peeples was scheduled for a minimally invasive procedure called a transcarotid artery revascularization, or TCAR, to restore blood flow. During TCAR, a small tube is inserted into the carotid artery in the neck to temporarily redirect blood away from the brain. A stent is inserted into the artery to stabilize the blockage. Once stabilized, the surgeon stops the reversal and allows the blood to flow in its normal direction.

“After the TCAR, Harold’s risk of having a stroke from carotid artery disease went from one in 10 to practically zero. That’s a huge peace of mind for him and his loved ones,” said Dr. Foteh. “Additionally, the TCAR procedure requires a much smaller incision than the traditional procedure used to open the artery and most people are able to leave the hospital in about a day.”

May is Stroke Awareness Month, a time when physicians encourage people to address any stroke risk factors they can control, like carotid artery disease. Other stroke risk factors that can be controlled include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and atrial fibrillation, according to the American Stroke Association.

Reducing Your Stroke Risk By Getting Evaluated

“There are things people can do to lower their risk of stroke, but it starts with getting evaluated.  That can often be done through a primary care provider. Like Harold, if you have carotid artery disease, there are minimally invasive procedures that can help restore blood flow and reduce the risk of stroke,” Dr. Foteh said.

Peeples says he feels very lucky.

“I’ve seen the effects of a stroke on a person’s life and I am thankful that my primary care physician found the blockage and that Dr. Foteh was able to open my artery. I really feel like he saved my life,” Peeples said.

Memorial Hermann Northeast offers specialized  heart and vascular care through a network of affiliated physicians. From preventive care and imaging to surgery, the multidisciplinary team utilizes state-of-the-art technology to treat a wide range of cardiovascular diseases. For more information, call 713.222.CARE or visit http://www.memorialhermann.org/locations/northeast/heart-and-vascular-care/

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