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Vascular Surgery

Puzzled about ultrasound result

07/06/2007

Question:

About twelve years ago, at a time when I ate what I wanted (although I`ve never been overweight) and smoked about a pack and a half of cigarettes a day, I had a carotid doppler ultrasound. The result came back clear, no problems. Two years ago, after another carotid doppler ultrasound, the result was an occluded right artery and 80% stenosis of the left artery. I had a endarterectomy on the left artery. One year after that my left artery was still clear. This week (two years after the surgery) the result of the follow up carotid doppler ultrasound is: left artery 50% stenosis. I am stunned. Since the surgery I eat very little containing cholestrol or fat and smoke ten cigarettes a day. I weigh about 99lbs, so to cut it any more would be impossible. I take medication for high blood pressure (120mg inderal la a day, 10mg lisinopril) and it is well controlled. In December 2006 my cholestral was: LDL 109 HDL 101 (Tri low, can`t remember the number). In May 2007 LDL 129 HDL 100 Tri 44. How can my left carotid artery be clogging at the rate of 1% a week, when the ten years before that it was clogging at a rate of 10% a year? It doesn`t make any sense to me.

Answer:

You are still smoking unfortunately and can expect recurrent blockage. There are some important benefits from taking statins even if your cholesterol is not high. Would consider asking your Primary Care physician about one if you are not already taking it. There is no such thing as smoking in moderation - even 10 cigarettes per day has a negative effect on blood vessels particularly after endarterectomy ('cleaning' them out).

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Response by:

Amy B Reed, MD Amy B Reed, MD
No longer associated