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Carotid Artery Disease

The carotid arteries are the main arteries supplying our brains with blood and oxygen. There are two Carotid arteries; one on each side of our necks. Just like any artery in our blood; Carotid Artery diseases is mainly caused by atherosclerosis; thus affecting the blood flow to our brains which would result in strokes.
Plaque build up ( Atherosclerosis) affects the blood flow; which might cause a piece of the plaque to break off and stop the blood flow to all or part of the brain. Thrombosis of the Carotid Arteries might also occur due to this sluggish blood flow. Which arteries are affected in the brain determines the type, duration and severity of the stroke(Cerebrovascular accident). For instance; a small clot that dissolves quickly wound result in a TIA ( transient ischemic stroke). While a large clot in a major blood vessel in the brain would result in a major disabling stroke.
Your risk increases as you age, and is heightened if you have a history of smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or heart disease.

Symptoms:

-May be absent: Most people with carotid artery disease, even with severe blockage, experience no symptoms. The condition is found in a routine physical or imaging for other diseases.
-The first signs of carotid artery disease may be a stroke, mini-stroke or TIA symptoms, such as weakness or numbness on one side of your body. You may also experience slurred speech or facial drooping.

Diagnosis:

Carotid Arteries imaging is done using Doppler Ultra-Sound, CT-scan or MRA. Depending on the presentation and planned procedure.

Treatments:

-Medication can help slow the progression of carotid artery disease. Aspirin, and medications that lower your cholesterol and blood pressure are commonly prescribed when the degree of narrowing is less than 50-60%. Medications may need to be adjusted as the disease progresses.
-Smoking cessation.
-If Carotid artery disease is symptomatic then the treatment is directed to managing the stroke and repairing the artery to prevent further strokes.
-Carotid Endarterectomy; is the surgical procedure in which the artery is cleaned from the plaque. It is considered the golden standard for managing the Carotid artery disease by all international medical authorities.
-Carotid artery stent angioplasty; which is placing a stent inside the artery to prevent further stokes is recommended in selected cases. It has a higher rate of complications than traditional surgical repair.