Ask the doctor: Do I really need carotid artery surgery?

Q. I am 86 years old and have high blood pressure and diabetes. As part of my last physical exam, my doctor ordered tests to check my carotid arteries. They showed that one was nearly 70% blocked. My doctor said I had to have surgery right away or I would have a stroke. Is she right? I am the only person taking care of my 88-year-old husband, and can't be away from him for long.

A. Your doctor knows you, and your medical history, far better than I do. Yet from what you have told me, you might have another option.

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