Carotid Artery Disease
Arterial narrowing in the carotid artery can develop slowly over many years. Many patients with carotid artery narrowing are completely asymptomatic. In other patients the first presentation of carotid artery narrowing can be a mini-stroke (or stroke) event.
Atherosclerotic plaque accumulation within the walls of the carotid arteries predisposes to mini-stroke and stroke events.
Risk factors for atherosclerotic plaque accumulation within the carotid artery include smokeing and tabacco use, high cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetis.
The most common location for plaque accumulation within the carotid arterial system is in the lower portion of the internal carotid artery (just to the side of the “Adam’s Apple”), immediately beyond the location where the common carotid artery splits into the internal and external carotid arteries.
Carotid Artery Disease Symptoms
Carotid artery disease may not cause signs or symptoms until it severely narrows or blocks a carotid artery. Signs and symptoms may include a bruit, a transient ischemic attack (TIA), or a stroke.
A bruit is a a whooshing sound called often detected during your physical exam. This sound may suggest changed or reduced blood flow due to plaque buildup.
Carotid Artery Disease Treatment
Treatment options include lifestyle changes, medication, surgical carotid endarterectomy and carotid artery stenting.