Routine screenings for carotid artery stenosis nixed for healthy adults

Data show that approximately 10 percent of ischemic strokes are caused by carotid artery stenosis (CAS), which is uncommon in the general adult population. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine, has recommended against general screening for CAS in healthy adults.

The task force study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, indicates that unnecessary screening for CAS may be harmful. “Screening for carotid artery stenosis often leads to follow-up testing and surgeries that can cause serious harms, including stroke, heart attack or death,” said researcher Jessica Herzstein, MD, MPH, in a release. Because of its low incidence in the general population, Herzstein also notes that CAS screening can produce many false-positives, indicating that a person has a condition that really isn’t there.

The task force recommends that people who have suffered stroke or mini-stroke or display signs or symptoms of stroke should talk to their physicians.

“The best way to prevent a stroke…is to focus on the things we know work,” said Michael LeFevre, MD, MSPH, task force chair. These recommendations include controlling high blood pressure and cholesterol, not smoking, staying or becoming physically active and maintaining a healthy weight and diet.

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Topics: Clinical