Carotid Artery Disease

A disease where plaque builds inside carotid arteries is called Carotid Artery Disease, also called CAD.  Each person has two main carotid arteries, one on each side of the neck, which divides into internal and external carotid arteries.

These external arteries bring oxygen-enriched blood to people’s scalp, face, and neck, while the internal arteries bring fresh blood to the brain.

Without blood flow to your brain, a stroke occurs, also known as a brain attack.  This is why CAD is so serious.

Brain cells start to die within a few minutes of a lack of blood and oxygen, impairing the ability of the brain to control different parts of the body.  Side effects of a stroke include long term disability, brain damage, vision and speech problems, and at worst, death.

Atherosclerosis is a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries and hardens, narrowing the arteries, and limiting blood flow to other parts of the body.

Atherosclerosis can occur in any part of the body, causing heart attacks in the coronary arteries and strokes in the carotid arteries.

If a carotid artery cracks or ruptures a stroke can occur due to blood platelets clumping together to form clots which can in turn partially or fully block an artery.

Another way in which a stoke happens is if a piece of plaque or clot breaks away from the arterial wall and travels through the blood stream to get stuck in one of the brains more minute arteries, blocking oxygen rich blood flow.

Sadly, a stroke is the first sign of the disease because there may not be any symptoms until the carotid arteries are badly blocked or narrowed.

More than half of the strokes in the United States are caused by carotid artery disease, although certain heart problems and brain bleeding can also cause strokes.

Reducing the risk of stroke and preventing and treating CAD may include lifestyle changes, medical procedures, and medicines.

Call 9-1-1 immediately if you are showing signs of a stroke.  Although you need urgent treatment, do not drive yourself to the hospital.

If a clogged artery is treated within four hours there is the best chance for complete recovery, and the sooner you are treated, the better you will respond to the course of action.