Carotid Artery Disease

CAROTID ARTERY DISEASE

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What Are The Carotid Arteries?

As much as one-quarter of the body’s entire oxygen supply is consumed by the brain alone. Oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the brain by two pairs of arteries, namely, the internal carotid arteries and the vertebral arteries. The left and right internal carotid arteries arise respectively from the left and right common carotid arteries which are located on the sides of the neck. The internal carotid arteries then branch off into a number of finer vessels through which the brain receives an estimated 80% of its blood supply. The internal carotid arteries mainly supply the front portion of the brain.

 

What Is Carotid Artery Disease?

CAROTID ARTERY DISEASE Carotid artery disease, also known as carotid artery stenosis, is a form of cardiovascular disease. It involves ‘stenosis’ or narrowing of the carotid arteries as a result of which blood supply to the brain is reduced. In the event that these vital arteries become completely blocked, the condition is known as ‘occlusion’.

Carotid artery disease is the result of atherosclerosis. This involves the gradual accumulation of a fatty plaque within the lumens of arteries. This can affect arteries in any part of the body. As more and more plaque gathers, the free flow of blood through these vessels becomes progressively restricted. This is especially dangerous when it is the carotid arteries that are affected as there is a possibility of severe and critical outcomes such as stroke, permanent brain damage, and even death.

Each common carotid artery divides into two vessels, one external carotid artery, and one internal carotid artery. One of the most common locations for atherosclerotic plaque buildup in the carotid arteries is at the point where the common carotid arteries bifurcate.

 

What Is Responsible For Carotid Artery Disease?

If your arteries are healthy, their walls should be supple and flexible. However, if you have a habit of smoking or a sedentary lifestyle or if your diet is rich in cholesterol you are at a risk of developing atherosclerosis. When a person has atherosclerosis, fatty plaque deposits gradually build up within the arteries and obstruct the smooth passage of blood. This plaque is usually made up of fats, cholesterol, calcium, cellular wastes and even living white blood cells.

CAROTID ARTERY DISEASEIn order to compensate for the narrowing of the lumen, the elastic muscular walls of the artery stretch and expand. As they are forced to continuously remain in this stretched state, they lose their elasticity. The affected blood vessel eventually becomes hardened and choked with a plaque as blood struggles to push through.

Any condition that increases your risk of developing atherosclerosis also increases your likelihood of developing carotid artery disease. Some well-known risk factors are laid out below:

  • Having a family history of cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension or atherosclerosis.
  • High blood cholesterol level.
  • An elevated level of triglycerides in the blood.
  • Risk increases with advancing age.
  • Smoking.
  • Obesity.
  • A diet high in saturated fats and trans fats.
  • Vitamin B6 deficiency.
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol.
  • Stress.
  • Leading a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Diabetes or some form of insulin resistance.
  • Hypertension.
  • Hypothyroidism.
  • A carotid aneurysm.
  • Inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus.
  • Fibromuscular dysplasia.

 

What Are Some Possible Complications?

Masses of plaque within the carotid arteries disrupt the normally smooth and uniform inner surface of the arteries. As blood flows across the irregular, rough surface of the plaque, blood clots may form in the affected area. This can further obstruct the flow of blood. Alternatively, the clot itself or pieces of it may break away and get carried away by the blood rushing past it. These clots can get lodged in arteries deeper in the brain where they can give rise to a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Similarly, a section of the plaque itself may come loose and end up stuck in an artery further downstream in the brain.

TIA, as the name indicates, involves temporary obstruction. However, in the event of a stroke, unless the obstruction is relieved immediately, the patient can sustain permanent brain damage. He or she may even die.

 

What Are The Symptoms?

Carotid artery disease in itself does not usually produce symptoms until it gives rise to a transient ischemic attack or a stroke. Patients may experience a few or more of the following problems:

  • Dizziness.
  • Slurring of speech.
  • Double vision or blurring of vision.
  • Loss of balance.
  • A difficulty with coordination.
  • Drooping of one side of the face.
  • Numbness.
  • Weakness.
  • Mental confusion.

 

How Is Carotid Artery Disease Diagnosed?

If you have been experiencing some of the symptoms listed above and if you think you have some of the risk factors mentioned above, you should visit a doctor for tests. The following procedures may be conducted:

  • Physical examination.
  • Medical history.
  • Ultrasound.
  • CT angiography.
  • MRI angiography.
  • Cerebral angiography.

 

What Treatments Are Available?

CAROTID ARTERY DISEASE surgeryThe mode of treatment is dependent on the extent of progress of carotid artery disease. Patients will be prescribed medications including anti-hypertensive drugs in case of abnormally high blood pressure or blood-thinners in order to prevent clot formation. If there is a moderate to severe degree of stenosis or narrowing in the carotid arteries, then your doctor will most probably recommend surgery. One possible method is carotid endarterectomy, a procedure by which the plaque is cleared out from the artery. Alternatively, the patient may be advised to undergo balloon angioplasty and stenting.

The treatment of carotid artery disease is aimed at increasing the supply of oxygen to the brain. This helps in preventing life-threatening conditions such as stroke. Medications, which help in lower blood pressure and cholesterol are effective in treating carotid artery disease. Blood-thinning drugs may be prescribed to reduce the formation of artery-clogging clots. Surgical procedures include using stents in the carotid artery to facilitate proper flow of blood.

With lifestyle and dietary improvements, one can avoid cardiovascular ailments to a large extent. Having a tobacco and alcohol-free life, coupled with the adequate amount of physical activities, and reduced stress can go a long way in preventing carotid artery disease.

 

Facts

  • When there is a larger deposition of plaque in the arteries resulting in hardening and narrowing of the blood vessels, it is called as atherosclerosis.
  • There are 2 common carotid arteries in the human body – located on either side of the neck.

Facts

  • Within a few minutes of blood supply being blocked from reaching the brain, the brain cells begin to die.
  • Women above the age of 75 years are more likely to develop this condition. It is more common among men, below 75 years.

Facts

  • The narrowing of the carotid artery doesn’t cause lead to any visible symbols.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Bring healthy changes to lifestyle, especially if you have a family history of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Maintain a healthy BMI. Having a BMI lower than or equal to 25 subsequently cuts down the risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
  • Reduce stress from life. Stress has a direct impact on the carotid arteries.
Don'ts
  • Consume tobacco in any form, smoking or chewing. Tobacco leads to narrowing of blood vessels and can cause damage to arterial walls.
  • Indulge in foods which have high saturated fatty acids. This leads to higher cholesterol deposition in the arteries.
  • Lead a largely sedentary life. Have 30 minutes of physical activities at least 4 times a week.

 

 

 

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alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
Sciatica pain relief: Get rid of the pain with these easy daily tips Researchers have claimed that not only heat but icing the area too helps relieve sciatica pain. Find out…
sodium chloride
Halotherapy: How inhaling salt can work wonders for your body Halotherapy is quickly gaining popularity amongst those with respiratory diseases. It has shown promise in its treatment.
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
Vitamin-D-blood-test
25-Hydroxy Vitamin D test 25-hydroxy Vitamin D test is a blood test used to measure the level of vitamin D in the…
BoneMarrow-Biopsy
Bone Marrow Biopsy Bone marrow biopsy is a diagnostic procedure where a small amount of bone marrow is extracted from hip…
Strep throat pain
Anti-Streptolysin-O Test The ASO or Anti-Streptolysin-O is a blood test designed to check for the presence of streptococcus bacterial infection…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
free psa test
Free PSA Test The free PSA test is used to detect the level or percentage of free PSA in the body…
HSV-1_IGG
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
piles fissure fistula
Allopathy vs homeopathy vs ayurveda treatment for piles, fissures, and fistula Read to know the best form of treatment among allopathy, homeopathy,or ayurveda for piles, fissures, and fistula
Tight phimosis ring
Phimosis Read to know everything about phimosis, types, symptoms, treatment, risks and prognosis for patients with this condition.
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…