Carotid Artery Disease, also called Carotid Artery Stenosis, is a narrowing of the carotid arteries. Ther are two carotid arteries, one on each side of the neck. They are major arteries that carry blood from the heart tothe brain. Carotid artery disease is caused by atherosclerosis, commonly called hardening of the arteries. Atherosclerosis is a buildup of plaque. Plaque is a sticky, waxy deposit of fats, cholesterol, calcium, and fibrous material. This causes reduction in the blood flow to the brain or can sometime throw a clot into the brain. This leads to damage to the nerve cells of the brain resulting in stroke.
In its early stages, carotid artery disease often doesn't produce any signs or symptoms. The condition may go unnoticed until it's serious enough to deprive your brain of blood, causing a stroke or TIA.
Signs and symptoms of a stroke or TIA include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face or limbs, often on only 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.
Carotid Endarterectomy involves opening the carotid arteries in the neck and removing the inner lining that is diseased or damaged by plaque. A patch graft may be placed to help widen the artery and improve the blood flow.
Carotid Artery Angioplasty and Stenting is an option for patients who have a high risk of complications for carotid endarterectomy.