Unless you or someone you know has suffered from a stroke, you might not know about carotid artery disease. It can change your life in an instant, however, there are few warning signs or symptoms before this happens. Carotid artery disease is a disease everyone should know how to prevent.
You Have Two Carotid Arteries
Your two large carotid arteries are located on each side of your neck. They transport blood to your head and brain. Should they become blocked or get too narrow to transport the blood efficiently, you not only develop this vascular disease, but you can also have a stroke.
The blockage is due to plaque lining the walls which consists of cholesterol, calcium, fat, and other substances. Like other arteries affected by atherosclerosis, it can lead to a blockage. When this happens to a coronary artery which transports blood to the heart, it can cause a heart attack, whereas with carotid arteries, you can have a stroke.
Signs of a Stroke
It is crucial to get emergency medical care immediately if someone exhibits the characteristics of a stroke.
The primary signs of a stroke include the following:
- Sudden weakness and numbness in the face or limbs
- Loss of balance
- Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
- A severe headache
- Vision problems
These symptoms can sometimes occur on only one side of the body.
Sometimes the symptoms of a stroke go away within 24 hours, which is considered a mini-stroke, also known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA). This is a major warning sign that the carotid arteries have blockage, and another stroke can happen at any time.
Risk Factors for Carotid Artery Disease
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking are major risk factors for developing carotid artery disease and stroke.
In addition, a family history of stroke, being older and a male, and trauma to the neck can indicate a risk for this vascular disease.
Advanced Vascular Associates can order regular blood tests to check for these risk factors, provide medication, and suggest lifestyle changes to mitigate the dangerous issues.
Stop smoking, keep diabetes under control, and eat healthy foods to prevent high cholesterol.
Eliminate as many risk factors from your life as possible to prevent carotid artery disease, and it will also help with heart health.