What is carotid artery disease?
The carotid artery is the main supply of blood to the brain. Narrowing or blockage of the carotid artery is known as carotid artery disease.
What are the symptoms of carotid artery disease?
Many patients with carotid artery disease have no symptoms. There is an increase risk of mini-stroke (TIA) and stroke in patients with carotid artery disease. The typical symptoms of a stroke include weakness of the arms or legs down one side of the body, facial droop, difficulty with speech or sudden loss of vision in one eye. If you have any of these symptoms call an ambulance – time is critical if you are having a stroke.
What causes carotid artery disease?
The most common cause of carotid artery disease is atherosclerosis, otherwise know as hardening of the arteries. Factors such as smoking, high blood pressure or diabetes damages arteries leading to inflammation and the build up of cholesterol within the wall of the carotid artery forming an atherosclerotic plaque. The plaque can narrow or block the carotid artery reducing blood flow to the brain or rupture leading to debris or clot travelling up to brain and causing a stroke.
What are the risk factors for carotid artery disease?
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Male gender
- Family history
How will my carotid artery disease be assessed?
- History and examination
- Duplex ultrasound
- CT angiogram
- MR angiogram
- CT Brain or MRI Brain
What treatments are available for carotid artery disease?
- Ultrasound surveillance
- Carotid endarterectomy (surgical removal of the plaque)
- Carotid artery stenting