Blood is supplied to the brain by the carotid arteries, which are located on either side of the neck. In an otherwise healthy person, the arteries are smooth, allowing oxygen-rich blood to flow freely from the heart to the brain.
The carotid arteries may become narrowed or blocked by a buildup and hardening of plaque called atherosclerosis. When this happens, blood flow becomes restricted and can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Diagnosing and Treating Carotid Artery Disease
Patients with CAD may not experience any symptoms until a stroke occurs. A doctor or health care provider, however, may use a stethoscope on your neck during an exam; if a rumbling noise is heard (called a bruit), it indicates turbulent blood flow. If this is the case, further tests may be run such as a carotid ultrasound, which images the arteries as well as measures speed and other characteristics of blood flow in the area.
At Premier Vein & Vascular, we can diagnose, evaluate, and treat patients with CAD.
Treatment typically includes some form of lifestyle modifications such as quitting smoking; controlling medical conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes, losing weight, and exercising. Medications may also be prescribed, including blood thinners and medicines to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
In some cases, the following procedures may be required:
- Carotid angioplasty and stenting. This minimally invasive technique unblocks an artery by inflating a balloon inside it and inserting a stent to hold the artery open. In a carotid angioplasty and stenting procedure, a tiny tube called a catheter is inserted into an artery from a small incision in the groin and guided to the carotid arteries, where the rest of the procedure takes place. This option is typically selected for patients with recurring carotid stenosis (partial blockage or narrowing of the arteries).
- Carotid endarterectomy. This is a surgical procedure to remove plaque buildup in the carotid arteries. It may be recommended in cases of moderate to severe blockage and the occurrence of stroke. After the artery channels are cleared, the arteries and any muscle or other tissues that were cut to gain access to the artery are stitched closed.
Concerned about your risk of carotid artery disease (CAD) and stroke? Contact the vascular and cardiology healthcare professionals at Premier Vein & Vascular and let us help you minimize your risk for these serious health issues. Call us at 1-888-VEINCARE or use our convenient online appointment request form to schedule a consultation.