Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Heart disease health centre


NHS Choices Medical Reference

NHS Choices Logo

A carotid endarterectomy is the recommended treatment for carotid stenosis (narrowing of the carotid arteries). Studies have shown this surgery to be highly effective when the stenosis is over 70%.

If you who have already had a stroke (when the blood supply to the brain is disturbed) or transient ischaemic attack (TIA or 'mini-stroke'), a carotid endarterectomy can reduce the risk of having another stroke over the next three years by 30%. 

Complications after surgery

There are some complications that can develop after surgery. These include:

  • restenosis (when the carotid artery becomes narrowed again) - estimates suggest that this can become narrow enough to require surgery again in 2-4% of people,
  • haemotoma (a swelling containing blood) - this can affect around 5-7% of people, but can easily be treated by draining the blood out,
  • infection - the wound where the incision (cut) was made can get infected, but this affects less than 1% of people and is easily treated with antibiotics, and
  • temporary nerve damage - this can affect up to 10% of people and causes difficulty swallowing, a hoarse voice, or numbness in your face, or tongue.

The temporary nerve damage usually clears up within one month of the surgery without any further treatment.

Improving your results

After surgery, your risk of having a stroke or TIA is reduced. However, there are some steps you can take yourself to reduce your risks as well.

  • Watch your diet - eat foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and watch your calorie intake. The current UK guideline daily amounts are 2,000 calories for women, and 2,500 calories for men.
  • Maintain a healthy weight - you can calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) to help you.
  • Exercise regularly - particularly aerobic exercises, such as walking.
  • Stop smoking - if you still smoke, you should quit now.

For more information, see the Health A-Z topic about preventing strokes.

Carotid artery

You have two carotid arteries in your neck. These provide the main blood supply to the brain.


Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body.


A stroke is a serious medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is disturbed or restricted. Brain cells begin to die and this can lead to brain damage and possibly death.


An incision is a cut made in the body with a surgical instrument during an operation.
Medical Review: November 20, 2009

Heart disease newsletter

The latest heart health news and information, delivered to your inbox.
Sign Up

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Heart surgery video: Recovery

Heart surgery: Recovery

Find out what's involved in different heart surgeries, what to expect and possible risks.

Popular Slideshows & Tools on Boots WebMD

woman looking at pregnancy test
Early pregnancy symptoms
donut on plate
The truth about sugar addiction
woman holding hair
Natural help for dry or damaged hair
woman in bikini
Get ready for swimsuit season
hand extinguishing cigarette
13 best tips to stop smoking
Immune-boosting foods
The role of diet
18 secrets men want you to know
boy looking at broccoli
Quick tips for feeding picky eaters
hamburger and fries
A guide for beginners
salmon dinner
A diet to boost your mood & energy
polka dot dress on hangar
Lose weight without dieting