Carotid artery disease

The carotid artery is located on every side of the neck which supplies blood to the brain. Carotid artery disease develops once plaque accumulates in either or both arteries. The accumulation can constrict the artery as well as disrupt with the flow of blood to the brain. Remember that this increases the risk for a stroke.

Possible causes

Carotid artery disease develops in the same manner as coronary artery disease. The buildup of plaque in the arteries occur over time. The contributing factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol

    Carotid artery disease
    Sudden tingling, numbness, weakness or loss of movement in the arm, face, leg especially on one side of the body
  • Family history of arterial hardening

What are the indications of carotid artery disease?

Many individuals do not have any symptoms. In some cases, a stroke is the initial indication of the disease. If an individual has any of these indications of stroke, call for emergency assistance right away.

  • Abrupt visual changes
  • Sudden tingling, numbness, weakness or loss of movement in the arm, face, leg especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden difficulty in speaking
  • Abrupt issues with balance or walking
  • Sudden confusion or difficulty understanding simple statements
  • Abrupt, intense headache that is different from previous episodes

Management

The objective of treatment is to reduce the risk for a stroke. The treatment is based on whether the individual has symptoms and severity of the blockage.

The doctor might prescribe medications along with lifestyle modifications. In some cases, certain procedures are done to reduce the risk.

Medications

  • Aspirin or other medications are given to prevent blood clots. In some cases, cholesterol medications specifically statins are also used.

Lifestyle changes

  • Stick with heart-healthy foods
  • Cessation of smoking and avoid exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Maintain a healthy weight and lower it down if needed
  • Stay active with suitable exercises

Surgery or stenting

Surgery in the arteries is called as carotid endarterectomy where the doctor creates a cut in the neck and removes the plaque out.

When stenting is performed, the doctor threads a thin tube via an artery in the groin and up to the carotid artery in the neck. A tiny balloon is utilized to enlarge the narrowed region of the artery and secures a stent to keep the artery open.

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