It's scary to be told that your carotid arteries-the big blood vessels in your neck that supply oxygenated blood to the brain-are dangerously clogged with plaque, leaving you at increased risk for stroke. People with this condition, called carotid artery stenosis, often undergo one of two different surgical procedures and in men, both surgeries appear to have similar benefits and risks.

But: Among women, one of the procedures seems to be significantly riskier than the other, according to a new study published in The Lancet Neurology

Researchers recruited more than 2,500 patients from 117 centers in the US and Canada. The two procedures being compared were the traditional carotid endarterectomy, in which a surgeon makes an incision to open the carotid artery, removes the plaque and then stitches up the artery.and the newer carotid artery stenting, a less invasive procedure in which a stent (mesh tube) is inserted into the carotid via a catheter and left in place to keep the artery open.

Results: Compared with women who underwent endarterectomy, women who received stents were more than twice as likely to have a stroke within 30 days after their surgery.

Bottom line: If your doctor recommends carotid artery stenting rather than endarterectomy, be sure to discuss the gender-based differences in stroke risk found in this study.

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