Marie Hagen and Dr. DeCaprio

Marie Hagen (right) and Dr. Jeffrey DeCaprio

TEXARKANA, Tx. - There's a technique that has the potential to become the preferred treatment for carotid artery disease which can cause a stroke.

Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Having diabetes puts you at a higher risk.

At 83, Marie Hagen is one of about 800,000 people who will suffer a stroke this year.

TCAR procedure

"It's kind of fuzzy to me. I just had a feeling that something wasn't right," Hagen said, describing what happened after a nap on Valentine ’s Day. "And my neighbor came to the door and i really didn't know who she was or what she was doing over there."

Hagen suffered a Transient Ischemic Attack.

"When they occur they can be devastating," said Dr. Jeffrey DeCaprio, a vascular surgeon with Collum and Carney Clinic in Texarkana, Texas. Hagen was referred to him after her unscheduled trip to the emergency room.

"Her lesion was one that she had a very tight blockage," Hagen said.

A 90-percent blockage in her right carotid artery caused her to have a minor stroke. Her doctor says she was lucky.

"I will tell you, a third of the time when a person has a stroke it's permanent. Which is pretty scary," DeCaprio said.

In the past, doctors had two options to clear blockages like Hagen's: Cut out the blockage  or place a stent near it. Both could still result in stroke.

Now there's another option.

Marie Hagen's neck

"TCar is a combination of the two. It stands for Trans-carotid artery revascularization," DeCaprio said. It's a minimally-invasive hybrid procedure

"And there's a special device it's called a neuro-protective device where. The reversal of flow protects the artery the whole time. So, before we even touch the lesion she's protected," DeCaprio said.

According to a study published in June by the National Center for Bio-technology Information, early results from this technique have shown low stroke/death rates when compared to traditional methods.

"It all went well. I don't remember being scared or worried about what was going to happen," Hagen said.

She spent just one night in the hospital and is doing fine.

TCAR procedure 2

DeCaprio recommends people over 65 get checked "or if they have high risks like smoking, diabetes or hypertension at least have a carotid screening."

"Thank God you were there," Hagen told her doctor.

A happy ending for Hagen, who says she loves mystery books.

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