Certain factors can put you at a higher risk for carotid artery disease, a serious condition in which your blood doesn’t flow through the arteries as it should. Read on to find out what causes carotid artery disease, if you are at high risk, and how it is treated.
What Causes Carotid Artery Disease?
In this very common disease (more than 200,000 new cases are reported in the United States each year), plaque builds up inside the carotid arteries, which supply blood to the neck, scalp, face, and brain. Over time, the arteries become stiff and narrow because of the plaque buildup, which makes it difficult for blood to flow properly. If blood clots form in the artery, they can eventually make their way to their brain and cause a stroke.
Carotid artery disease can develop very slowly, and therefore it is more common in older people. Often, there are no signs or symptoms of the disease until the patient has a brief, stroke-like episode called a “transient ischemic attack” (TIA). You are more at risk for carotid artery disease if you smoke, are overweight, or if you never take part in any physical activity.
Other medical problems can also put you at a higher risk, such as:
- High blood pressure or hypertension
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- How Is Carotid Artery Disease Treated?
Your doctor will look for signs of carotid artery disease, such as a “swooshing” sound in the artery. He or she will test your physical and mental capabilities and will perform an ultrasound, a CT, or an MRI to check for problems.
If you are in the early stages of the disease, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes, such as getting regular exercise, quitting smoking, and eating a healthy diet. If you have had a TIA or a stroke, surgery can be done to remove blockage in the artery so that blood can flow normally.
Are you at high risk for carotid artery disease and the serious problems it can cause? Dr. Sammy A. Zakhary can help. Contact the office in Glendale, Arizona, at (623) 258-3255 for an appointment today.