Risk, causes, and prevention of ischaemic stroke in elderly patients with symptomatic internal-carotid-artery stenosis

Lancet. 2001 Apr 14;357(9263):1154-60. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(00)04332-4.


Background: Carotid endarterectomy benefits patients with symptomatic stenosis of 70-99% in the internal carotid artery, with smaller benefit for 50-69% stenosis. The benefit of carotid endarterectomy in patients of 75 years and older remains unclear.

Methods: Patients aged 75 years or older from the North American Symptomatic Carotid Endarterectomy Trial were compared with those aged 65-74 years and less than 65 years for baseline characteristics and risk of ipsilateral ischaemic stroke at 2 years by degree of stenosis and treatment group.

Findings: Among patients with 70-99% stenosis, the absolute risk reduction of ipsilateral ischaemic stroke with carotid endarterectomy was 28.9% (95% CI 12.9-44.9) for patients aged 75 years or older (n=71), 15.1% (7.2-23.0) for those aged 65-74 years (n=285), and 9.7% (1.5-17.9) for the youngest group (n=303). Among patients with 50-69% stenosis, the absolute risk reduction was significant only in those of 75 years and older (n=145; 17.3% [6.6-28.0]). The perioperative risk of stroke and death at any degree of stenosis was 5.2% for the oldest group, 5.5% for 65-74 years, and 7.9% for less than 65 years. The number of patients aged 75 years or older needed to treat to prevent one ipsilateral stroke within 2 years was three with 70-99% stenosis and six with 50-69% stenosis.

Interpretation: In the prevention of ipsilateral ischaemic stroke, elderly patients with 50-99% symptomatic carotid stenosis benefited more from carotid endarterectomy than younger patients did. To achieve this treatment benefit, surgeons must be skilled and patients with other life-threatening illnesses must be excluded.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carotid Artery, Internal
  • Carotid Stenosis / complications
  • Carotid Stenosis / drug therapy
  • Carotid Stenosis / surgery*
  • Endarterectomy, Carotid*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / epidemiology*
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Stroke / prevention & control*
  • Time Factors