June 13, 2011 Comments Off on Dr. Arthur Day on Carotid Artery Disease
Dr. Arthur Day has treated patients for a wide variety of cerebrovascular diseases, including brain aneurysms, stroke, vascular malformations, and carotid artery disease.
Located under the jaw on each side of the neck, the carotid arteries serve as the brain’s primary blood supply. When these arteries become blocked or are narrowed, a condition called carotid stenosis, carotid artery disease results. The plaque builds up and can cause a clot to form, which in turn can cause a stroke. Many factors can contribute to carotid artery disease, including high-blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, drug and alcohol abuse, smoking, kidney disease, and a family history of stroke.
Those who have this disease may experience no symptoms at all or may experience classic stroke symptoms, such as weakness in a part of their body, mental confusion, memory loss, blurred vision, speech difficulties, and loss of sensation.
Tests for carotid artery disease include a doctor listening to the blood flow of the arteries through a stethoscope to check for abnormal sounds. Clots that appear in the eyes’ blood vessels serve as visual warning that the patient may have the disease. In addition, cholesterol and triglyceride level tests can be performed, as well as a glucose test, to check for the disease. Other ways of detecting carotid artery disease include a magnetic resonance angiography, an ultrasound of the arteries, and a computerized tomographic angiography.
Once detected, carotid artery disease can be treated with medications and a special diet to bring down cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Blood thinning medications, including Coumadin and Plavix, are often prescribed for this condition, and sometimes a surgery, called carotid endarterectomy, is necessary to remove the plaque buildup. Carotid artery disease can cause strokes as well as a transient ischemic attack, which refers to an episode that resembles a stroke but lasts usually less than a day; this type of attack is commonly considered a warning sign that a stroke is on the way.
There are simple ways to help prevent carotid artery disease, such as staying away from alcohol and drugs, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and eating a healthy diet. It is a good idea to get routine physicals and have your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked.