Carotid Artery Disease

Overview of Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid artery disease is a serious medical condition. It causes interruptions in blood flow. The plaque that builds up can put an individual at increased risk of stroke.

Carotid artery disease or carotid artery stenosis ( شریان سبات کی بیماری) occurs due to the fatty deposits in the blood vessels that are responsible for the supply of blood to your brain and head.  This blockage leads to the narrowing of the blood vessels that carry blood to the neck, face, and brain.

Continuous interruptions in the blood flow can lead to stroke. These strokes are highly damaging to the body. Another name for carotid artery disease is arteriosclerosis.

Carotid Artery Aneurysm 

A carotid artery aneurysm is a condition in which the bulging or ballooning of the blood vessel happens. This condition mostly happens when the artery walls weaken. Constant weakening of the artery wall will worsen the situation. This will ultimately lead the aneurysm to burst.

Signs and Symptoms of Carotid Artery Disease

In most cases especially during the early phases of this disease does not produce any significant signs or symptoms. This condition can take a turn for worse if it goes unnoticed.

Some of the major signs and symptoms of carotid artery disease are: 

 

  • Sudden numbness or weakness
  • Sudden speech immobility 
  • Sudden visual issues 
  • Severe headaches 
  • Sudden loss of balance

Types of Carotid Artery Disease

Causes of Carotid Artery Disease

The build-up of fat particles in the blood vessels causes the narrowing of these vessels. This constant build-up of plaque over time leads to constricted blood flow. Interrupted blood flow to the brain increases the chances of stroke in the person.

stroke is also known as a brain attack. Just like a heart attack, in a brain attack, the flow of blood to the brain is stopped. In case the blood flow is interrupted for more than 4 hours the condition can be fatal.

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Risk Factors of Carotid Artery Disease

Given below are the risk factors that are associated with carotid artery disease:

It is one of the most common risk factors. High blood pressure stresses the arteries and makes them weak.

  • High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is mostly present in food items. People who rely on junk food and foods that are high in cholesterol are more susceptible to heart issues and carotid artery stenosis.

Diabetes is a medical condition in which the body suffers from high levels of sugar. This is also a risk factor because diabetes can give rise to high blood pressure.

Being overweight is a serious medical issue because it affects blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

  • Smoking

Smoking is known to cause havoc on the inner body functions. The nicotine and other substances that constitute cigarette smoke constrict the tiny blood vessels. This constriction interrupts the blood flow.

  • Age

 As a person gets old the blood vessels lose their elasticity. This loss of flexibility causes the blood vessels to constrict. That is why elderly people are more on the edge of developing carotid artery stenosis.

  • Family History

Carotid artery disease tends to run in families due to certain genes.

Health Complications Due to Carotid Artery Disease

Stroke is the major complication that a patient can suffer from due to carotid artery disease. When the blood flow to the brain is reduced, stroke can occur. A stroke can be fatal for a person.

The onset of stroke can be due to the following:

  • The constricted arteries are unable to supply blood to the brain
  • Plaque can dislodge and can block any small blood vessel
  • Formation of blood clots which blocks the blood flow
  • Large blood clots can break into smaller ones and can interrupt the blood supply

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Prevention

Listed below are some of the preventive measures that a patient can take:

  • Quit Smoking

Smoking contains several cancerous substances that are damaging to the arteries. These cancerous substances constrict your arteries and thus lead towards carotid artery stenosis.

  • Check out the cholesterol levels

Cholesterol levels are the reason for plaque buildup in the arteries. Therefore, make sure that you regulate your daily fat intake.

  • Exercise

Physical activity is very important for the proper functioning of the body. A body that is properly maintained can function better. As per studies, a moderate 20-minute exercise daily is good for our hearts.

  • Avoid Alcohol Consumption

Patients who are suffering from carotid artery disease should not drink alcohol as it damages their heart health.

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight

 

If you are overweight the chances of certain chronic diseases increase. Therefore maintaining a healthy weight is the key factor.

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Diagnosis

The first step in the diagnosis of carotid artery disease is to consult a doctor. The primary assessment majorly comprises medical history accompanied by a proper physical examination.  The doctor makes sure that they pay attention to the swooshing sound in the carotid arteries. 

This is to check the narrowing of the carotid arteries in the neck. The doctor also makes sure that they then test the physical and mental abilities of the patient. Physical strength, speech ability, and memory are also tested. 

Your doctor can also recommend you:

  1. Ultrasound 

Your primary health care doctor will recommend you ultrasound to check out the blood flow as well as the pressure in these arteries.

  1. CT or MRI 

A CT or MRI is needed to assess the occurrence of a possible stroke. 

  1. CT Angiography or MR Angiography 

 

It gives us a visual of the blood flow in the carotid arteries.  

Treatment of Carotid Artery Disease | When to Consult a Doctor

The major goal while treating carotid artery stenosis is to prevent the onset of stroke. The treatment may vary from patient to patient. The severity of the disease, previous medical records, and the extent of the blockages all play a key role in the treatment phase. 

Treatment of carotid artery stenosis is based on these two factors:

  • Mild to moderate Blockage
  • Severe Blockage 

Treatment for Mild to Moderate Blockage

In this case, the doctor will recommend:

  1. Lifestyle Modifications

Some of the best lifestyle choices which a person can make are

  • Quit smoking
  • Lose the weight
  • Make healthier life choices
  • Limit the salt intake
  • Exercise regularly
  1. Medications

Your cardiologist can also prescribe certain medications to control blood pressure and cholesterol.

Treatment for Severe Blockage

In case the patient has suffered from a stroke or severe carotid artery blockage the doctor can recommend the following procedures.

  1. Carotid Endarterectomy

This is one of the most common treatments for carotid artery disease.  With the help of the front incision, the plague is removed from the narrowed blood vessel. Then the surgeon stitches back the artery.

  1. Carotid angioplasty and stenting

 

When the patient has underlying medical conditions. The surgeon tends to prefer this procedure. Under the influence of local anesthesia, a tiny balloon is threaded into the affected area. The inflation of the balloon then widens the narrowed artery. A stent is also placed which keeps the artery wide.