Our bodies carry blood from the heart to the brain using two large arteries known as the Carotid arteries. When you place your fingers against your throat and feel your pulse, these are the arteries you feel. When plaque builds up inside the artery walls, these pathways narrow. The condition is called carotid stenosis or carotid artery disease. When left untreated, carotid stenosis can significantly increase the risk of stroke.
Carotid artery stenosis develops slowly. Risk factors include tobacco use, high blood pressure, diabetes and a family history of carotid artery disease. It is also more common in people as they get older and more common in people with obesity. Often, the first visible symptom of carotid stenosis is a stroke, so it is important to get regular check-ups to diagnose potential issues early.
Does carotid artery stenosis require surgery?
The good news is that carotid artery stenosis can be treated conservatively in many cases. People who only have a mild narrowing of the arteries may be able to improve their condition through lifestyle choices. These include adopting a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise and quitting smoking. Many people can also treat carotid artery stenosis with over the country medications such as aspirin.
People who have more severe blockages or who have suffered a previous stroke may need surgery to correct their carotid artery stenosis. A procedure known as an endarterectomy is performed in order to remove plaque buildup and restore normal blood flow to the artery. After treatment, lifestyle changes can prevent a recurrence and also help prevent other health issues.
What is bilateral carotid artery stenosis?
Bilateral carotid stenosis occurs when both sides are affected. This means that there is narrowing in the arteries on both sides of the neck.
Common symptoms to watch for
In some cases, carotid stenosis does not cause any noticeable symptoms before an individual experiences a stroke. In others, signs of the condition may be discovered during a physical exam. When doctors suspect that a patient is experiencing carotid artery disease, they will follow up with tests such as a carotid artery stenosis ultrasound.
In some cases, symptoms are more distinct. Seek medical attention if you experience any of the following:
- confusion and problems with memory.
- difficulty seeing or sudden onset of blindness.
- slurred speech that does not have obvious causes (such as consumption of alcohol).
- inability to understand speech.
- inability to speak.
- tingling, numbness or weakness in the face, arms or legs.
Get Treatment at Premier Heart & Vein Care
At Premier Heart & Vein Care in San Luis, we offer non-invasive tests that can help you and your doctor determine whether you have carotid artery disease and what treatments might be appropriate. Our caring team uses their years of expertise to carefully examine the health of your arteries and give you a fuller picture of your health. Get in touch for more information today.