Purpose of Review:
Large artery atherosclerosis is an important cause of ischemic stroke. Recent randomized clinical trials have helped clarify the treatment options for conditions such as carotid stenosis and intracranial atherosclerosis. This review outlines the primary findings of these trials and provides current recommendations for treatment.
Carotid revascularization is preferred in patients with severe symptomatic carotid stenosis. Carotid endarterectomy achieves lower rates of stroke or death than carotid artery stenting. The risk of stroke or death with stenting is higher among older patients and women. Intensive medical therapy achieves low stroke and death rates in asymptomatic stenosis. Medical therapy and treatment of atherosclerotic risk factors are the mainstay of therapy for intracranial atherosclerosis, and medical therapy is recommended for patients with vertebral artery origin atherosclerosis.
Contemporary medical therapy is paramount in large artery atherosclerosis. Patient demographics, comorbidities, and the periprocedural risks of stroke and death should be carefully weighed while choosing a revascularization procedure for carotid stenosis.