Carotid Artery Disease

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Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid arteries are large blood vessels that supply blood to the head and brain, travelling through the neck. When any of these arteries is narrowed, it may block the normal blood flow and cause a stroke.

Blood flow obstruction may be due to the following:

  • Cholesterol plaque and progressive narrowing
  • Blood clot due to vessel damage following rupture of a previously formed cholesterol plaque.
  • The plaque may rupture and produce embolization to smaller brain vessels.

Risk factors associated are high blood cholesterol and triglycerides levels, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle.

There are no specific signs and symptoms associated with the presence of carotid artery diseases, but transient ischemic attacks may be the first manifestation. These attacks are usually episodes associated with headaches, dizziness, numbness on a side of the body, blurred vision, altered consciousness or paralysis. They may last from a couple of minutes to some hours, and in all cases the patient should seek immediate medical attention.

Diagnosis may be established following a thorough clinical evaluation, Doppler ultrasound, MRI, angio tomography, angiography or a combination of the latter.

Treatment implies medical and surgical interventions in order to control the causative factors and to unblock the arteries.

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