Carotid Stenosis: Underwriters look at age of diagnosis

The carotid arteries are the two large blood vessels you can feel the pulse of in your neck that bring oxygenated blood to the brain. Narrowing or blocking of these arteries can cause life threatening consequences, including a major stroke. Often diagnosable by a doctor during the exam by listening for a bruit over the arteries themselves, it is just as often found after a major event such as a transient ischemic attack or a full blown stroke. There’s still not universal agreement on a uniform treatment for carotid stenosis, and confusion has been added by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force which recommends against routine screening for carotid stenosis in the general population. Nonetheless, it is an important consequence of vascular disease and always has to be accounted for in underwriting.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of disability. A narrowing of the carotid artery (or arteries) may be a precursor to strokes or transient ischemic attacks (TIA) because of small emboli (clots) that can pass unimpeded to the brain or from significant narrowing that limits proper blood flow. 10-15 percent of strokes are associated with carotid artery stenosis, and up to eight percent of adults are estimated to have some degree of carotid narrowing. Read More