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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Carotid endarterectomy, or CEA, is surgery done to remove plaques from inside your carotid artery. The carotid artery is a blood vessel found in both sides of your neck. The artery is Y shaped and carries blood and oxygen to your brain. Plaques are fat, cholesterol, or tissues that clog the inner wall of your artery. When plaques build up inside your carotid artery, blood flow to your brain may be decreased. A part of the plaque may also break free and move to other parts of your body. CEA may be done to prevent problems caused by a narrowed or blocked artery, including stroke (brain attack). If you have had a stroke, CEA may be done to decrease your risk of having another stroke.
- Keep a written list of the medicines you take, the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list of your medicines or the pill bottles when you see your caregivers. Learn why you take each medicine. Ask your caregiver for information about your medicine. Do not use any medicines, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbs, or food supplements without first talking to caregivers.
- Always take your medicine as directed by caregivers. Call your caregiver if you think your medicines are not helping or if you feel you are having side effects. Do not quit taking your medicines until you discuss it with your caregiver. If you are taking medicine that makes you drowsy, do not drive or use heavy equipment.
- Aspirin to stop blood clots: Aspirin helps thin the blood to keep blood clots from forming. If you are told to take aspirin, do not take acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead. Do not take more or less aspirin than directed. This medicine makes it more likely for you to bleed or bruise.
- Blood thinners: Blood thinners are medicines that help prevent blood clots from forming. Clots can cause strokes, heart attacks, and death. Blood thinners make it more likely for you to bleed or bruise. If you are taking a blood thinner:
- Watch for bleeding from your gums or nose. Watch for blood in your urine and bowel movements. Use a soft washcloth on your skin and a soft toothbrush on your teeth. This can keep your skin and gums from bleeding. If you shave, use an electric shaver. Do not play contact sports, such as football.
- Be aware of what medicines you take. Many medicines cannot be used when taking medicine to thin your blood. Tell your dentist and other caregivers that you take blood-thinning medicine. Wear or carry medical alert information that says you are taking this medicine.
- Take this medicine exactly as your caregiver tells you. Tell your caregiver right away if you forget to take the medicine, or if you take too much. You may need to have regular blood tests while on this medicine. Your caregiver uses these tests to decide how much medicine is right for you.
- Talk to your caregiver about your diet. This medicine works best when you eat about the same amount of vitamin K every day. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and other foods, such as cooked peas and kiwifruit.
- Blood pressure medicine: This medicine may be given to lower your blood pressure. Keeping your blood pressure under control will protect your surgery site from breaking open.
- Cholesterol medicine: This type of medicine is given to help decrease (lower) the amount of cholesterol (fat) in your blood. This medicine may be given to decrease the risk of new plaque forming in your carotid artery.
Follow-up visit information:
Ask your caregiver when to return for a follow-up visit. Keep all appointments. Write down any questions you may have. This way you will remember to ask these questions during your next visit.
- Do not drink alcohol: Some people should not drink alcohol. These people include those with certain medical conditions or who take medicine that interacts with alcohol. Alcohol includes beer, wine, and liquor. Tell your caregiver if you drink alcohol. Ask him to help you stop drinking.
- Do not smoke: Smoking harms your heart, lungs, and your blood. If you smoke, you should quit. You are more likely to have a stroke, heart attack, lung disease, and cancer with smoking. Ask your caregiver for more information about how to stop smoking if you are having trouble quitting.
- Maintain a healthy body weight: Having extra body weight may increase your risk of having high blood pressure and a stroke. Talk with your caregiver about what the right body weight is for you.
Ask your caregiver for directions on how to take care of your incision site.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You are sick to your stomach or are throwing up.
- You have a fever or chills.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You have chest pain that spreads to your arms, jaw, or back. You may also have sweating, or feel sick to your stomach.
- You have sudden trouble speaking or moving parts of your body. You may also have blurred vision, dizziness, trouble thinking clearly, or you may pass out.
- Your incision is swollen, red, or has pus coming from it.
- Your incision starts bleeding, and blood begins to soak through your bandage.
- Your stitches come apart.
- You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
- You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may cough up blood.
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
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