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About Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid arteries are blood vessels on either side of the neck and supply blood to the brain. Carotid artery disease occurs when fatty deposits, known as plaques, clog the blood vessels delivering blood to the brain and head. Typically, pieces of plaque are lifted from the hardened artery and cause a stroke or mini stroke. A stroke is a medical emergency that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or seriously reduced.

Carotid artery disease develops slowly. The first sign that you have the condition may be a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). A TIA is a temporary shortage of blood flow to your brain without residual neurological changes.

Treatment of carotid artery disease usually involves a combination of lifestyle changes, medication and possibly surgery.

Symptoms

Slight symptoms before diagnosis include signs of a mini stroke, and many patients aren’t aware of them:

  • Vision loss or blindness – usually in one eye
  • Weakness or numbness one side of the body
  • Episode of difficulty speaking or swallowing
  • Facial asymmetry or drooping

Risk Factors

There are several risk factors that indicate you may need to be screened for carotid artery disease:

  • Age 55 or older
  • Current or former smoker
  • Nicotine products user
  • Family history of cardiovascular disease or aneurysms
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Sedentary or inactive lifestyle

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