Asymptomatic Carotid Stenosis: Risk of Progression and Development of Symptoms

Tarun D. Singh, Christopher L. Kramer, Jay Mandrekar, Giuseppe Lanzino, Alejandro A. Rabinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: The aim of this study is to evaluate the rate of progression of stenosis and development of symptoms in patients with asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis (aCAS) treated with contemporary medical therapy over a prolonged time interval. Methods: This study is a retrospective review of consecutive patients diagnosed with moderate or severe aCAS at our institution between 2000 and 2001. Data were gathered from both carotid arteries for each patient excluding vessels operated within 1 year of diagnosis and occlusions. Multivariate analysis was performed to analyze factors associated with ipsilateral transient ischemic attack (TIA)/stroke. Results: We identified 214 patients (58.8% men; median age 70 years) and collected data on 349 vessels. Degree of stenosis was severe (>70%) upon diagnosis in 92 (26.4%) vessels. Median length of follow-up was 13 years (interquartile range 10-14), and mean number of time points for follow-up imaging were 8.1 ± 3.9. Progression of stenosis was observed in 237 (67.9%) vessels, and 72 (20.6%) patients developed symptoms ipsilateral to the stenosis (TIA in 14.4%, non-disabling stroke in 4%, disabling stroke in 2.2%). Median time to appearance of first symptom was 6 years (range 1-13). On multivariate analysis, degree of baseline stenosis, intracranial stenosis >50%, plaque ulceration, silent infarction and previous history of TIA/stroke were associated with ipsilateral TIA/stroke, but progression of stenosis was not. Conclusions: There was a substantial rate of progression of stenosis in patients with aCAS over time despite adequate medical therapy, but progression of stenosis did not increase the risk of ipsilateral TIA/stroke. Over long-term follow-up, 1 in 5 patients with aCAS developed ipsilateral TIA/stroke, though most events were either transient or non-disabling. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-243
Number of pages8
JournalCerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015


  • Asymptomatic carotid stenosis
  • Carotid artery imaging
  • Carotid artery stenosis
  • Carotid stroke
  • Prevention of stroke
  • Prognosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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