Complications of aortic atherosclerosis: atheroemboli and thromboemboli

Current Treatment Options in Cardiovascular Medicine
Theresa A MolisseItzhak Kronzon


Patients with severe aortic atherosclerosis are at high risk for stroke and other embolic complications. Therapy to prevent emboli from aortic plaque is not yet established. Therefore, patients with atherosclerosis or risk factors for embolic disease should be identified and treated aggressively. Aspirin, smoking cessation, and control of blood pressure and glucose are important. Retrospective data in patients with severe aortic plaque support the use of statins to prevent stroke. Iatrogenic embolization can occur as a result of aortic manipulation during invasive vascular procedures or cardiovascular surgery. The risks and benefits of these procedures must be carefully weighed, and alternate approaches should be considered for patients with severe aortic atherosclerosis. For those who require coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, off-pump CABG is an option. Prophylactic aortic arch atherectomy should not be routinely performed. Aortic filters or stenting have been introduced but have not yet been fully evaluated. For patients who require angiography and have severe descending aortic, aortic arch, or abdominal aortic plaque, it is possible that a brachial (rather than a femoral) approach may avoid embolic complications.


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