The North American Symptomatic Carotid Endarterectomy Trial (NASCET) confirmed that carotid endarterectomy (CEA) can significantly cut the risk of stroke in patients with moderate and severe blockage. The standard today is that patients who have internal carotid artery stenosis >70% with associated symptoms and who are appropriate surgical candidates should be offered CEA. Aneurysmal disease, a growing public health concern, poses the threat of death from rupture, and lower extremity arterial occlusive disease poses a significant risk of critical leg ischemia and limb loss. Both conditions involve surgical options. In treating their patients, primary care physicians should become familiar with the benefits and risks of vascular surgery to manage the various aspects of peripheral arterial disease.
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