Stroke is the primary concern when a patient is faced with carotid artery blockage. A narrowing or obstruction of these vital routes that deliver oxygen and blood to the brain can lead to the type of cerebral attack that is the number 3 cause of death in the United States.
A carotid artery blockage occurs when one of the two carotid arteries at the front of the neck become clogged with a buildup of fatty deposits called plaque. The resulting condition is known as atherosclerosis.
What is carotid artery blockage? As the carotid arteries carry crucial oxygen and blood to the brain, an obstruction of this flow may result in a stroke. This "brain attack" may also be brought on by plaque which breaks away and travels to the brain (embolization).
Transient ischemic attacks (TIA's) are an indication that a major stroke may be on the way. "TIAs are temporary episodes of headache, dizziness, tingling, numbness, blurred vision, confusion, or paralysis that can last anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours," according to The Texas Heart Institute.
Individuals at greatest risk include those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, a family history of the disease, and people who smoke or are overweight.
"Symptoms of carotid artery disease include weakness, numbness, paralysis, slurred speech or vision problems," according to the Barnes-Jewish and Washington University Heart and Vascular Center in St. Louis. Tests to diagnose the disease include ultrasound imaging and magnetic resonance angiography.
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