Carotid Artery Stenosis Symptoms: Risk Factors And Treatment

The carotid artery is large artery located on both sides of a person’s neck. It supplies blood to the brain and face. Carotid arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart to head and face. Carotid artery also supplies blood to brain. It supplies blood to the anterior part of brain where the centers of speech, thinking and motor abilities are situated. Stenosis of this artery means that there is constriction or narrowing of carotid artery. The condition is also called atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis of carotid artery occurs when there is a build of fatty substances or plaque in it.

Blockage or narrowing of artery passage can obstruct sufficient supply of blood to the brain. Thus, this condition is very dangerous as it can lead to stroke and brain damage.

Risk Factors For Carotid Artery Stenosis

Causes and risk factor associated with carotid artery stenosis are similar to those of coronary arteries blockage (arteries supplying blood to heart).

  • There is a strong history of carotid or coronary artery disease in family.
  • Smoking
  • High level of cholesterol in blood. Particularly, LDL (low density lipid) which is also considered to be bad cholesterol. Rise in triglyceride is also responsible for atherosclerosis; however it is not as significant the cause as that of coronary artery atherosclerosis.
  • High blood pressure
  • People suffering from diabetes are at greater risk of carotid artery obstruction in comparison with non diabetic individuals.
  • Obese individuals are at greater risk than those who have normal weight.
  • People living sedentary lifestyle.

Symptoms Of Carotid Artery Stenosis

The problem with this ailment is that it develops slowly. The plaque build-up is slow and symptoms only appear when the build-up is already too large that it could almost cover the whole passage.

Carotid artery blockage symptoms include:

  • Loss of sight in one eye or both the eyes.
  • Loss of sensation in one part of the body.
  • Loss of sensation in one limb.
  • Transient ischemic attacks
  • Severe permanent stroke
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Motor coordination is lost
  • Speech problems. Patient may not be able to speak properly, the speech becomes slurred.

Treatment Of Carotid Artery Blockage

  • Various medications work well for treating this problem. Often, the patient will be asked to take anti-clotting medications, anti-hypertensive medications, and other drugs.
  • It is also a good idea to change one’s diet and lifestyle. That means that the patient should try to reduce intake of fatty foods and others deemed unhealthy by the doctor or nutritionist.
  • If the person is obese, he should try to reduce weight.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol as it is known to increase triglyceride level in blood.
  • If the problem is severe, the patient might need surgery to correct the defective carotid artery.

Carotid Artery Stenosis Surgery

  • Surgery can help solve stenosis of the carotid artery. This can be either carotid stenting or carotid endarterectomy. Of the two, the latter is more effective in reducing the risks of stroke.
  • This surgery will ensure that the flow of blood towards the brain is not restricted anymore.
  • Carotid artery angioplasty and placing stents inside the lumen open the arterial wall and allows free flow of blood. The stent placed in narrowed artery stays permanently. It is the best option for patients who are unfit for surgery or if the stenosis is of smaller size.