What is Carotid Artery Disease?
The carotid arteries are located in the neck. They supply blood to the brain. Carotid artery disease occurs when these arteries become blocked. It is typically caused by atherosclerosis, which is a condition that causes plaque buildup. Carotid artery disease is a serious problem because it can block blood from to the brain. This can cause a stroke. Metro Vascular Centers specialize in vascular diseases and offer the following information to educate future patients on major symptoms and causes.
Symptoms of Carotid Artery Disease
Many people do not know that they have carotid artery disease because they may not have any symptoms during the early stages. In fact, many people do not have any symptoms until they have a stroke. Some of the symptoms of a stroke include the following.
- Trouble seeing in one or both of the eyes
- Loss of balance
- Severe headache
- Sudden weakness and numbness
If you notice any of those symptoms, then you will need to see a doctor as soon as possible. Even if the symptoms last for a few minutes and go away, you should still see a doctor. The sooner you are treated for a stroke, the less likely you will be to have serious and long-term complications from it.
Risk Factors for Carotid Artery Disease
High Blood Pressure
If your blood pressure is chronically high, then this can weaken your blood vessels.
Tobacco can raise your heart rate and blood pressure. It can also irritate your arteries.
Diabetes can make it harder for your body to process fats. That is why the plaque may end up in your arteries.
If you have a family history of this condition, then you will be more likely to develop it yourself.
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes you to stop breathing periodically at night. It can increase your risk of developing carotid artery disease.
If you are obese or do not exercise, then you are more likely to develop carotid artery disease.
Treating Carotid Artery Disease
Doctors often recommend that people make lifestyle changes in order to manage their condition. Exercising, eating healthy and losing weight can reduce the risk of a stroke. A doctor can also perform angioplasty. This is a condition where a balloon is placed in the artery in order to widen it.
Additionally, a doctor can surgically remove the plaque from the arteries. This procedure is known as carotid endarterectomy.