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 IL Senator Mark Kirk Among the One Percent of Americans Under Age 60 with Carotid Artery Disease

January 25, 2012  Contact: Sue Crosson-Knutson  312-334-2311

CHICAGO - Carotid Artery Disease (CAD) affects one percent of Americans between the ages of 50 and 59 according to the Society for Vascular Surgery®. 

On Sat., Jan. 21, 52-year-old U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) suffered a stroke. According to his neurosurgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Kirk had a blockage due to a tear (dissection) in the right internal carotid artery. Arterial dissection can be related to plaque build-up (atherosclerosis) within the arteries. The carotid artery is located in the neck.

“Ten percent of Americans between the ages of 80 and 89 have blocked carotid arteries due to a build-up of plaque,” Dennis R. Gable, M.D., a vascular surgeon and member of the Society for Vascular Surgery.

Stroke was the fourth leading cause of death in America in 2010 according to the 2010 National Vital Statistics Report. In 2010, 137,000 Americans died from strokes.

“Often, a mini-stroke known as transient ischemic attack (TIA) may precede a full stroke,” said Dr. Gable in a new Society for Vascular Surgery podcast that explains stroke.

“TIA symptoms may include a temporary loss of function in an arm, leg, or speech,” said Dr. Gable. “After several minutes, function may return.” 

Prior to Kirk’s stroke, he is reported to have experienced white flecks in his vision, numbness in his left arm, and unusual sensations in his left leg.

Most often, strokes occur without warning. Risk factors for carotid artery disease and stroke are:
• high cholesterol
• high blood pressure
• diabetes.

Prevention of a stroke requires lifestyle changes. “If you’re smoking, you have to quit,” said Dr. Gable. “If you’re not exercising, you’ve got to get out there and exercise. You’ve got to watch what you eat – the portion size, the calories, the types of foods.” 

Additional stroke information appears on the Society for Vascular Surgery website at:®.
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About the Society for Vascular Surgery®
The Society for Vascular Surgery® (SVS) is a not-for-profit professional medical society, composed primarily of vascular surgeons, that seeks to advance excellence and innovation in vascular health through education, advocacy, research, and public awareness. SVS is the national advocate for 3,750 specialty-trained vascular surgeons and other medical professionals who are dedicated to the prevention and cure of vascular disease. Visit its Web site at® and follow SVS on Facebook and Twitter.

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