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Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid Artery Disease Surgery at North Texas Surgical Specialists

Carotid artery disease is a disease in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside the carotid arteries.

You have two common carotid arteries, one on each side of your neck, that each divide into internal and external carotid arteries. The internal carotid arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your brain, while the external carotid arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your face, scalp, and neck.

Overview

Carotid artery disease is a major cause of stroke in the United States. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows the arteries. This may limit the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your organs and other parts of your body.

Atherosclerosis can affect any artery in the body. For example, if plaque builds up in the coronary (heart) arteries, a heart attack can occur. If plaque builds up in the carotid arteries, a stroke can occur.

What Causes Carotid Artery Disease?

Carotid artery disease seems to start when damage occurs to the inner layers of the carotid arteries. Major factors that contribute to damage include:

  • Smoking
  • High levels of certain fats and cholesterol in the blood
  • High blood pressure
  • High levels of sugar in the blood due to insulin resistance or diabetes

When damage occurs, your body starts a healing process. The healing may cause plaque to build up where the arteries are damaged.

The plaque in an artery can crack or rupture. If this happens, blood cell fragments called platelets will stick to the site of the injury and may clump together to form blood clots.  

The buildup of plaque or blood clots can severely narrow or block the carotid arteries. This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your brain, which can cause a stroke.

 

What is carotid artery stenosis?

Narrowing of the artery because of the buildup of plaque. This can lead to a complete blockage of flow resulting in a large stroke. More frequently, small pieces of the plaque might break off, travel and cause blockage of smaller branches in the brain resulting in a mini-stroke (also known as a TIA or Transient Ischemic Attack) or a stroke.

How is carotid artery stenosis treated?

Medical therapy is the mainstay of treatment using Aspirin and Cholesterol-lowering drugs. Interventional options include surgery (carotid endarterectomy) to clean out the disease and carotid artery stenting.

What is carotid artery stenosis?

Narrowing of the artery because of the buildup of plaque. This can lead to a complete blockage of flow resulting in a large stroke. More frequently, small pieces of the plaque might break off, travel and cause blockage of smaller branches in the brain resulting in a mini-stroke (also known as a TIA or Transient Ischemic Attack) or a stroke.

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