On each side of the neck, you will find a carotid artery. The carotid arteries carry the main blood supply from the heart to the brain. You can feel the artery pulsing by placing your fingers just behind and to one side of the Adam's apple. Blockage in the carotid artery can be dangerous and result in such conditions as a stroke. There are a number of things that can be done to to reduce or remove this blockage.
Reduce the stress on your arteries, slowing the progression of atherosclerosis in mild to moderate cases by quitting smoking, achieving your ideal weight, and getting regular exercise. Lowering the sodium intake of your food may also help. Maintaining normal blood pressure is also a factor.
Consult with your physician. He may ask you to take aspirin daily or prescribe other blood-thinning medicine which will help avoid formation of dangerous blood clots. He may also recommend or prescribe other medications to help control your blood pressure, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. Other medications would include a calcium channel blocker or statin medication to reduce your cholesterol level.
Undergoing a surgical procedure called carotid endarterectomy may be required if your case is severe. Local or general anesthesia will be administered and an incision along the front part of your neck will be performed by your surgeon, opening the affected carotid artery and removing the plaques.
When the location of the narrowing is too difficult to access directly, the surgeon may perform a carotid angioplasty and stenting. With this procedure, a tiny balloon is threaded by a catheter to the area of the condition (carotid artery) or clogging. The balloon is then inflated, which in turn widens the artery, and a small wire-mesh coil, or stent, is inserted, keeping the artery from narrowing again. The procedure is still relatively new, and its effectiveness is still being calculated.
Tips & Warnings
- Engaging in a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise will help to ensure your good health.
- Consult with your physician if you are experiencing such symptoms as:
- • Trouble swallowing
- • Blurred vision / loss of vision
- • Slurring of speech
- • Loss of coordination
- • Dizziness or confusion
- • Difficulty talking or understanding what others are saying
- • Weakness or numbness of your leg, arm, or face on one side of your body only
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