Carotid Artery Disease
Carotid artery disease, or carotid artery stenosis, is a condition in which narrow arteries reduce blood flow to the brain. It can lead to life-threatening complications like strokes, which is why you should be proactive when it comes to this silent disease. At Modern Heart and Vascular, we’re committed to early detection and prevention with our staff of experts and cutting-edge technology.
What Is Carotid Artery Disease?
Arteries are the blood vessels that circulate blood from the heart to the rest of your body. Carotid arteries, two blood vessels in your neck, have the critical job of bringing blood to the brain. Over time, substances in your blood build up on your artery walls, leaving behind a waxy plaque. As this plaque accumulates, it hardens and narrows your arteries. Narrowed arteries affect blood flow to the brain and other parts of the body.
Carotid artery disease poses a serious threat to your health. Limited blood flow can deprive parts of your brain of oxygen and other nutrients. In severe cases, too much plaque or a rupture can cause a complete blockage and lead to a stroke. Without adequate amounts of oxygen-rich blood, your brain will die.
Causes of Carotid Artery Disease
Plaque buildup in the arteries, known as atherosclerosis, develops over years. Fatty or fibrous deposits from the blood naturally accumulate on artery walls. Several factors contribute to this buildup and put you at a higher risk of developing complications like carotid artery disease. Major risk factors include:
- High cholesterol.
- Sedentary lifestyle.
Carotid Artery Disease Symptoms
Arterial plaque gathers gradually and silently over time. Signs of carotid artery disease often don’t appear until the condition is severe enough to cause a major problem. The first symptom of your condition might be a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as a mini-stroke. These conditions require immediate medical attention.
Common symptoms of a stroke include:
- Sudden numbness.
- Vision problems.
- Cognitive difficulties.
- Trouble speaking or balancing.
- Sudden severe headache.
Carotid Artery Disease Treatment
Due to the lack of noticeable symptoms leading up to stroke, it’s critical to talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about your cardiovascular health and arterial plaque. Doctors can use imaging tests and monitor for signs of carotid artery disease to determine the seriousness of the threat.
Treatments for carotid artery disease vary based on your condition’s severity. In mild-to-moderate cases, your doctor could recommend lifestyle changes, medications that prevent blood clots or statins that lower cholesterol. If your risk is severe, your case might require surgical intervention. Endarterectomies and angioplasties are the most common surgeries for addressing carotid artery disease.
Preventing Carotid Artery Disease
If you have or are at risk for carotid artery disease, you can still take steps to prevent or slow its progression. Lifestyle changes are a significant factor in reducing the threat of stroke associated with arterial blockages. Manage your chronic conditions, eat a heart-healthy diet, exercise regularly and avoid tobacco or excessive drinking to decrease your chances of serious carotid artery complications.
Contact Modern Heart and Vascular today to learn more about carotid artery disease or request an appointment.
This page does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you need cardiovascular care, please call us at 832-644-8930.