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Vascular Conditions:

Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid artery disease occurs when the major arteries in your neck become narrowed or blocked. These arteries, called the carotid arteries, supply your brain with blood. Your carotid arteries extend from your aorta in your chest to the brain inside your skull.
Your arteries are normally smooth and unclogged on the inside, but as you age, a sticky substance called plaque can build up in the walls of your arteries. As more plaque builds up, your arteries narrow and stiffen. This process is called atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Eventually, when enough plaque builds up to reduce blood flow through your carotid arteries, physicians call this carotid artery disease. Carotid artery disease is a serious health problem because it can cause a stroke.


    Carotid artery disease may not cause symptoms in its early stages.
    Unfortunately, the first sign of carotid artery disease could be a stroke. However, you may experience warning symptoms of a stroke called transient ischemic attacks, or TIAs. Symptoms of a TIA usually last for a few minutes to 1 hour and include:

  • Feeling weakness, numbness, or a tingling sensation on one side of your body, for example, in an arm or a leg
  • Being unable to control the movement of an arm or a leg
  • Losing vision in one eye (many people describe this sensation as a window shade coming down)
  • Being unable to speak clearly

These symptoms usually go away completely within 24 hours. However, you should not ignore them. Having a TIA means that you are at serious risk of a stroke in the near future. You should report TIA symptoms to your physician immediately.



    Surgery - you may require surgery if your carotid artery disease is severe or has progressed. Signs of severe disease include having TIA symptoms, having experienced a stroke in the past, or just having a severely narrowed carotid artery even without symptoms.
    Carotid endarterectomy - A vascular surgeon makes an incision in your neck and then removes the plaque contained in the inner lining of your carotid artery. This procedure removes the plaque and leaves a smooth, wide-open artery. You may be able to leave the hospital the same day or the day after the procedure depending upon how you feel. This procedure is safe and long lasting.
    Angioplasty and Stenting - a newly developed minimally invasive procedure to treat carotid artery disease is angioplasty and stenting. To perform this procedure, your vascular surgeon may insert a long, thin tube called a catheter through a small puncture site over a groin artery and guide it through your blood vessels to your carotid artery. The catheter carries a tiny balloon that inflates and deflates, flattening the plaque against the walls of the artery. Next, the physician places a tiny metal-mesh tube called a stent in the artery to hold it open. Your hospital stay after angioplasty and stenting is approximately the same as with endarterectomy. Carotid angioplasty and stenting is currently controversial because long-term results are not yet available. Nevertheless, for patients who have medical conditions that increase the risk of carotid endarterectomy, angioplasty and stenting may be a good alternative.

    Call 732-249-0360 for an appointment.