Carotid Stenting Improves Thinking Ability

Carotid artery pre-stenting (l.)
and after opening (r.)
© Johns Hopkins University

The study shows that patients with narrowed carotid arteries were, in fact, having neurocognitive deficits involving memory and executive functions, and that these deficits improved after the interventional radiology treatment. “We know from previous studies that carotid stenting can prevent a stroke in those at high risk, but what we didn’t know is that the treatment makes people’s brains function better. Their memory improved, some say they see colors brighter, and they can think better,” says study author Rodney Raabe, M.D., interventional radiologist.

In this study, the patients in the asymptomatic category improved the most in neurocognitive function, most likely because they have not suffered previous injury to the brain from strokes or mini-strokes. Though all those studied showed improvement, the younger patients did better. They have more neurocognitive reserve and had the biggest gains in neurocognitive function. The improvement was due to the increase in blood flow to the brain, as shown on MRI after the procedure.

The study involved sophisticated neurocognitive measures including IQ, handling of spatial relationships, memory and other executive functions. Patients were tested for memory and executive function five times before and an additional four times after the procedure. The tests include the ability to respond to a command, integrating the command, and providing an answer in return. Functions were also tested, such as word memory, number memory, and putting things in order. These functions improved, even in patients with a lower degree of stenosis, and the improvement was statistically significant.; Source: Johns Hopkins University