Carotid stenosis is a potentially deadly and common problem, especially among older adults.
It is a vascular condition affecting the carotid arteries, the two large blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the brain. These arteries are located on either side of the neck, just below the jawline. The carotid artery is what you press your fingers against when taking your pulse at the neck. If either or both arteries become blocked or narrowed (stenosis), it can lead to a stroke.
Causes & Complications
The narrowing of the carotid arteries – aka carotid stenosis – usually occurs due to the buildup of plaque inside artery walls. It can also be caused by scarring and hardening due to aging or trauma, as well as the growth of fibrous tissue within the wall of an artery.
If you have been diagnosed with carotid stenosis, you are at risk of having a stroke, the main complication of the condition. A stroke can cause sudden death or lasting disability.
Symptoms of Carotid Stenosis
Carotid stenosis may exist long before the first symptoms appear. In fact, many patients are diagnosed with carotid stenosis only after suffering a stroke.
By the time symptoms occur, significant blood flow blockage has already occurred, and it is vital to see immediate medical attention. These symptoms may include:
- Reduced blood pressure
- Weakness on one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking
- Sudden, severe headache
- Difficulty with balance
- Problems speaking or understanding speech
- Loss of vision in one eye
If you or someone you know is experiencing the above symptoms, it is considered a medical emergency. Call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room right away! Every minute counts with a possible stroke.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Carotid stenosis can be diagnosed in a variety of ways, including with duplex ultrasound, angiography, computed tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
How carotid stenosis is treated will depend on the severity of your condition and symptoms, as well as your age and overall health.
If minor to moderate narrowing is present in one or both arteries, treatment may be conservative to start. For example, lifestyle changes may be recommended, such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. Medications may be prescribed, including blood pressure medications, blood thinners, and statins to lower cholesterol levels.
For more severe carotid stenosis, surgery may be necessary to open the narrowed artery and may include minimally invasive procedures such as angioplasty and stenting.
In addition, ongoing monitoring of your carotid arteries may be necessary to ensure there is sufficient blood flow through the arteries and your condition isn’t worsening.
Carotid Artery Treatment in Miami Lakes, Plantation, Coconut Creek & Aventura, FL
If you’re at risk of developing carotid artery disease, it’s important to talk to your doctor so you can receive proper diagnosis and treatment.
The vascular experts at Florida Endovascular and Interventional have the training, experience, and specialized skills needed to effectively treat a wide variety of life-threatening conditions, such as carotid stenosis.