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What is carotid artery disease?

Carotid artery disease is a condition in which blood supply to a part of brain suffers due to atherosclerosis or fatty plaque deposition in carotid arteries or its branches.

What are the symptoms of carotid artery disease?

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face or limbs, often on one side of the body
  • Sudden trouble speaking and understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness or loss of balance
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

What are the risk factors of carotid artery diseases?

Below are the risk factors of carotid artery diseases:
  • High blood pressure- Excess pressure on artery walls can weaken them and make them more vulnerable to damage.
  • Tobacco use- Nicotine can irritate the inner lining of your arteries. Smoking also increases your heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Diabetes- Diabetes lowers your ability to process fats efficiently, placing you at greater risk of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.
  • High blood-fat levels- High levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides, a blood fat, encourage the accumulation of plaques.
  • Family history- Your risk of carotid artery disease is higher if a relative has atherosclerosis or coronary artery disease.
  • Age- Arteries become less flexible and more prone to injury with age.
  • Obesity- Excess weight increases your chances of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and diabetes.
  • Sleep apnea- Spells of stopping breathing at night may increase your risk of stroke.
  • Lack of exercise- It contributes to conditions that damage your arteries, including high blood pressure

How to diagnose carotid artery diseases?

Below are the methods to diagnose carotid artery diseases:
  • History and physical examination- A thorough history and physical examinationn helps in making the diagnosis.
  • Ultrasound- to assess blood flow and pressure in the carotid arteries.
  • Arteriography- This can be used to confirm the findings of ultrasound imaging which can be uncertain in some cases. Arteriography is an X-ray of the carotid artery taken when a special dye is injected into the artery.
  • CT or MRI- to look for the ischaemic site or other abnormalities.
  • CT angiography or MR angiography- to locate the particular vessel which is thrombosed.

How to prevent carotid artery disease ?

Below are the methods to prevent carotid artery diseases:
  • Don't smoke- Within a few years of quitting, a former smoker's risk of stroke is similar to a nonsmoker's.
  • Maintain a healthy weight- Being overweight contributes to other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and sleep apnea.
  • Limit cholesterol and fat- Cutting back on saturated fat, in particular, may reduce the buildup of plaques in your arteries.
  • Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables- They contain nutrients such as potassium, folate and antioxidants, which may protect against a TIA or stroke.
  • Limit salt- Excess salt may increase blood pressure in people who are sensitive to sodium.
  • Exercise regularly- Exercise can lower your blood pressure, increase your level of highdensity lipoprotein cholesterol and improve the overall health of your blood vessels and heart. It also helps you lose weight, control diabetes and reduce stress.
  • Limit alcohol.

What is the treatment of carotid artery disease?

Surgical treatment includes following surgeries:

Carotid endarterectomy

A carotid endarterectomy is a surgical procedure in which a doctor removes fatty deposits blocking one of the two carotid arteries, the main supply of blood for the brain. The surgery has been found highly beneficial for persons who have already had a stroke or experienced the symptoms of a stroke and have a severe stenosis of 70 to 99 percent.

Carotid stent

In this procedure a stent is placed in blocked artery thereby restoring the blood supply to brain.

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