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Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid arteries are located on both sides of the neck area. It has a main branch that divides into smaller branches.Carotid arteries have two divisions as the internal and external carotid arteries.While external carotid artery supplies blood to the face, neck and the scalp; internal carotid artery supplies blood to the brain; as 2 of the 4 major arteries.

Carotid arteries may block or get narrow for several reasons and thus prevent normal flow of blood. This disease, developing as a result of plaques in the arteries, is called as carotid artery disease or carotid artery stenosis.

Symptoms of Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid artery disease develops in the course of time. Once it progresses, transient ischemic attacks occur. Transient ischemic attacks, which are also called as “mini-strokes”, decrease the quality of life of patients. Their signs are:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Numbness on the face, arms and legs
  • Partial facial paralysis
  • Experiencing difficulty in speech and comprehension
  • Dizziness, imbalance
  • Loss of strength

In case transient ischemic attacks are not properly treated at the right time, risk of paralysis and stroke will increase. Therefore, in case signs of ischemic attack are observed, it is vital to visit a doctor without any delay.

Causes of Carotid Artery Disease

Although genetic factors contribute to the development of carotid artery disease, life style also plays an active role. Use of tobacco and tobacco products results in significant deformation in the arteries and formation of plaques. Other factors causing stenosis are high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol level and diabetes. Furthermore, these factors lead to platelet adhesion to the site of injury in the carotid arteries and eventually to clotting.

Individuals at risk of carotid artery are:

  • thosewith high blood cholesterol level,
  • thosewith high blood pressure,
  • smokers and other tobacco product users,
  • the elderly,
  • the diabetics,
  • the obese individuals,
  • those adopting a sedentary life style,
  • those with metabolic syndrome and
  • those with family history of artery diseases.

Treatment of Carotid Artery Disease

Firstly, the patient is expected to modify his/her life style for the treatment of carotid artery disease. Furthermore, drug therapy is applied to control diabetes, hypertension or other heart diseases.

Carotid endarterectomy is applied for advanced carotid artery disease patients. This surgical procedure is performed under local anesthesia; the site of injury with plaque deposition is incised, the calcified layer of plaque is removed and later is covered with a patch. Angioplasty and stenting is also another treatment modality for carotid artery disease.

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