Carotid artery disease occurs when the carotid arteries, the main blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood to the brain, become narrowed. Because the carotid arteries deliver blood to the brain, carotid artery disease can have serious consequences. If the narrowing of the carotid arteries becomes severe enough to block blood flow, or a piece of atherosclerotic plaque breaks off and obstructs blood flow to the brain, a stroke may occur.
Carotid artery disease is commonly caused by atherosclerosis—a build-up of plaque in the inner lining of an artery—also known as “hardening of the arteries”. Plaque is made up of deposits of smooth muscle cells, fatty substances, cholesterol, calcium, and cellular waste products. Atherosclerosis is a slow, progressive, vascular disease that may start as early as childhood. Risk factors associated with atherosclerosis include:
The symptoms of carotid artery disease may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis. Sometimes, patients who have carotid artery disease experience no symptoms. There may by a significant amount of atherosclerotic build-up without obstructing enough blood flow to cause symptoms. However, here are some symptoms and dangers for many who have carotid artery disease.
Specific treatment for carotid artery disease will be determined by your physician based on many factors, such as your age, overall health, medical history, and symptoms. For cases in which the narrowing of the carotid artery is less than 50 percent is most often treated medically, including:
For cases in which the narrowing of the carotid artery is greater than 50 percent, a more aggressive treatment may be recommended. Surgical treatment of carotid artery disease includes:
UR Medicine Heart & Vascular provides all of the latest and most modern approaches to the treatment of carotid artery disease. The research we perform at UR Medicine keeps us on the leading edge of treatments.