Background — Carotid endarterectomy is performed less often in women than in men, but it is unknown whether this reflects differences in screening rates, disease prevalence, or other factors.
Methods — This was a cohort study of consecutive patients with acute stroke or TIA admitted to 11 Ontario stroke centers participating in the Registry of the Canadian Stroke Network between July 1, 2003, and September 30, 2007. We compared rates of carotid imaging, the severity of carotid stenosis, and rates of carotid endarterectomy or angioplasty within 6 months of the index event in women vs men.
Results — We studied 6,389 patients (48% women) with ischemic stroke or TIA. Women were less likely than men to undergo carotid imaging (81% vs 86%, p < 0.0001); however, when the analysis was limited to patients without apparent contraindications to surgery, 92% received carotid imaging, with no difference between women and men. Women were less likely than men to have severe carotid stenosis (7.4% vs 11.5%, p < 0.0001). Women were half as likely as men to undergo carotid revascularization within 6 months of the index event (odds ratio 0.51, 95% confidence interval 0.37 to 0.70), but this gender difference was no longer significant in the subgroup with severe carotid stenosis (odds ratio 0.75, 95% confidence interval 0.49 to 1.15).
Conclusions — Although women with ischemic stroke or TIA are less likely than men to undergo carotid screening and revascularization, this difference is largely explained by potential contraindications to surgery and by sex differences in the severity of carotid disease.
Screening and prevention