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Carotid Artery Disease

Your Vascular Health is a matter of life and limb. Your arteries are responsible for delivering oxygen-rich blood From your heart to other parts of your body. Your carotid arteries are the two main arteries that carry blood from your heart, up through your neck, to your brain. Healthy carotid arteries are smooth and unobstructed, allowing blood to flow freely to the brain, providing oxygen, glucose, and other nutrients that your brain cells need.

Typically with age, the carotid arteries build up plaque, a sticky substance made up mostly of fat and cholesterol. Plaque narrows the passageway within the arteries and causes them to become stiff and obstructed. Carotid artery disease results when the carotid arteries become too narrow or obstructed, and limit the blood flow to the brain.

Strokes result either from obstruction of blood flow to the brain by the plaque, sudden clotting off of the carotid artery, or when bits of plaque and clots break off from the plaque and flow to the brain. If left untreated, carotid artery disease may lead to stroke, where lack of oxygen and other essential nutrients cause permanent damage to the brain. Depending on its severity, a stroke can be fatal. One-third of strokes are fatal. Even among the survivors, the impact of a stroke can be devastating. One year after suffering a stroke, two-thirds of survivors are still left with significant functional deficits, such as paralysis of an arm and/or leg, inability to speak, or blindness in an eye.

Many patients will experience a “mini-stroke,” or transient ischemic attack (TIA), as the first sign of carotid artery disease. In a TIA, the symptoms are exactly the same as a stroke, but resolve usually within minutes to a few hours. If you have experienced a TIA you should seek immediate medical attention. Very often, however, the first sign of carotid artery disease is a permanent stroke, which emphasizes why it is so important to be evaluated for carotid disease if you have specific risk factors.

Symptoms of Stroke

• Weakness, numbness, or tingling on one side of the body.
• Inability to control movement of a body part.
• Loss of vision or blurred vision in one or both eyes.
• Inability to speak clearly
• Difficulty talking or comprehending what others are saying.
• Dizziness or confusion.

 

Screening                  Treatment Options

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