Fayetteville mayor sidelined by artery disease

— A little more than a week after blacking out at an event, Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan is stepping away from his active schedule to undergo surgery for blockage of an artery that supplies blood to the brain.

Jordan anticipates having surgery Tuesday or Wednesday to open the blockage of a carotid artery, Chief of Staff Don Marr said Monday.

Earlier Monday, Jordan attended a meeting of his staff and informed them of the situation.

The medical issue surfaced more than a week ago when Jordan blacked out while at the University of Arkansas to sign a proclamation for Make a Difference Day on Oct. 16. The episode caused Jordan to have vision problems.

He was taken to the emergency room at Washington Regional Medical Center by Dr. Hershey Garner, who was at the university event. He was released after an examination.

He was seen by an opthamalogist, a physician who specializes in the eyes, while continued tests were performed on his blood flow. Marr said Jordan was notified after hours last Friday of the carotid blockage.

Under doctor's orders, Jordan is resting and has canceled appointments this week pending a doctor's visit today, at which surgical plans will be firmed up, Marr said.

Dr. Geetha Ramaswamy, a physician at the Walker Heart Institute Cardiac Vascular Clinic at Washington Regional Medical Center, said in general, the carotid artery surgery is “not super high risk” as some other types of heart or vascular surgery.

Ramaswamy, who spoke generally about the condition but not Jordan's case, said such a blockage is caused by the build-up of plaque in the carotid arteries. The blockage causes an increased risk of stroke, according to WebMD.com, a medical information website. The website said the carotids are located on either side of the neck to carry blood to the front part of the brain used in thinking, speech, personality, sensory and motor functions.

“The risk is there for a stroke but doesn’t necessarily mean he’s had a stroke,” Ramaswamy said.

Marr said Brenda Thiel, an alderman who serves in the role of vice mayor, will preside over the City Council’s agenda session Tuesday night in Jordan’s absence.

Marr said city staff will continue to handle issues as needed in Jordan's absence.