|Thyroid Cancer - Carotid Artery Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and Treatment|
|Written by Ruai Pharmaceuticals|
|Monday, 22 August 2011 18:50|
Table of contents
Carotid Artery Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and TreatmentCarotid artery disease introduction
Carotid Artery Disease Introduction
Carotid artery disease is also called carotid artery stenosis. The term refers to the narrowing of the carotid arteries. This narrowing is usually caused by the buildup of fatty substances and cholesterol deposits, called plaque. Carotid artery occlusion refers to complete blockage of the artery. When the carotid arteries are obstructed, you are at an increased risk for a stroke, the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
How Does Carotid Artery Disease Happen?
Like the arteries that supply blood to the heart -- the coronary arteries -- the carotid arteries can also develop atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries” on the inside of the vessels.
Over time, the buildup of fatty substances and cholesterol narrows the carotid arteries. This decreases blood flow to the brain and increases the risk of a stroke.
A stroke -- sometimes called a “brain attack” -- is similar to a heart attack. It occurs when blood flow is cut off from part of the brain. If the lack of blood flow lasts for more than 3 to 6 hours, the damage is usually permanent. A stroke can occur if:
Strokes can occur as a result of other conditions besides carotid artery disease. For example, sudden bleeding in the brain, called intracerebral hemorrhage, can cause a stroke. Other possible causes include:
What Are the Risk Factors for Carotid Artery Disease?
The risk factors for carotid artery disease are similar to those for other types of heart disease. They include:
Men under the age of 75 have a greater risk than women. Women have a greater risk over the age of 75. People who have coronary artery disease have an increased risk of developing carotid artery disease. Typically, the carotid arteries become diseased a few years later than the coronary arteries.
What Are the Symptoms of Carotid Artery Disease
You may not have any symptoms of carotid artery disease. Plaque builds up in the carotid arteries over time with no warning signs until you have a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or a stroke.
Signs of a stroke may include:
What Is a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)?
A TIA occurs when there is a low flow of blood or a clot briefly blocks an artery that supplies blood to the brain. With a TIA, you may have the same above symptoms as you would have for a stroke. But the symptoms only last a few minutes or few hours and then resolve.
A TIA is a medical emergency because it is impossible to predict whether it will progress into a major stroke. If you or someone you know experiences any of the above symptoms, get emergency help. Immediate treatment can save your life and increase your chance of a full recovery.
Findings show that someone who has experienced a TIA is 10 times more likely to suffer a major stroke than a person who has not had a TIA.
How Is Carotid Artery Disease Diagnosed?
There are often no symptoms of carotid artery disease until you have a TIA or stroke. That's why it's important to see your doctor regularly for physical examinations. Your doctor may listen to the arteries in your neck with a stethoscope. If an abnormal sound, called a bruit, is heard over an artery or vascular channel, it may reflect turbulent blood flow. That could indicate carotid artery disease.
Listening for a bruit in the neck is a simple, safe, and inexpensive way to screen for stenosis (narrowing) of the carotid artery. As a screening test, though, it's inexact. Some experts believe that bruits may be better predictors of atherosclerotic disease rather than risk of stroke. Be sure to let your doctor know if you have had any symptoms, such as those listed above.
Your doctor may also use a test to diagnose carotid artery disease. Possible tests include the following:
What's The Treatment For Carotid Artery Disease
To effectively treat carotid artery disease, doctors recommend the following:
What Are the Recommended Lifestyle Changes for Carotid Artery Disease?
To keep carotid artery disease from progressing, the following lifestyle changes are recommended:
Which Drugs Can Reduce the Risk of Stroke?
Your doctor may recommend antiplatelet medications such as aspirin and clopidogrel (Plavix) to decrease the risk of stroke due to blood clots. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to lower cholesterol and/or antihypertensives to lower your blood pressure. In some cases, Coumadin (warfarin), a blood thinner, may be prescribed.
What Medical Procedures Treat Carotid Artery Disease?
If there is severe narrowing or blockage in the carotid artery, a procedure can be done to open the artery. This will increase blood flow to the brain to prevent future stroke. Your doctor may suggest either of the following procedures:
|Last Updated on Sunday, 11 December 2011 13:44|