Carotid artery disease is a malady that affects the carotid arteries that send blood to the eyes and the brain. The two arteries are found on either side of the neck. The arteries might grow narrow from atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries or because cholesterol has accumulated in them. If the arteries are completely blocked, this can result in a stroke as the brain is starved of oxygen.
Another troubling thing about carotid artery disease is that it’s often silent, which means it has no symptoms. However, there are tests that can show whether a person has the disease. Some of these tests are in fact simple eye tests where the doctor checks the artery through the back of the eyeball.
Carotid arteries that have become very narrow might need surgical treatment through an endarterectomy. This is an operation that removes fat, calcium, cholesterol and other detritus from the wall of the artery. This surgery is performed if there’s a 50 percent or higher blockage of the artery. If the arteries are very narrow, the patient can take medication to prevent dangerous blood clots. One of these medicines can be as simple as aspirin, which can stop blood clot formation. If a clot has already formed, there are medicines that can break it up.
Some patients opt for carotid angioplasty. This is when stents or balloons are inserted into the arteries. These devices keep the arteries open to prevent strokes.
One symptom that something is wrong with the carotid artery is the patient experiencing what seems like a curtain coming down over his or her field of vision. This can last a few seconds or for some hours and should be considered a medical emergency. Other symptoms might be weakness on one side of the face or numbness and weakness in an arm that also lasts about an hour or so.
The goal of treating carotid artery disease is to keep it from worsening and leading to a stroke. Sometimes, all this requires is for patients to change their lifestyle. Patients can change their diets to cut down on foods high in fats, sugar and salt and add more fiber-rich foods. They can take up an exercise regimen that can help them lose weight and keep their blood pressure within normal parameters. Patients should consult with their doctors to see which sort of lifestyle changes are appropriate for them.
Cardiac Center of Texas treats patients with Carotid Artery Disease. If you would like to speak with someone or schedule an appointment call us at 972-529-6939. Cardiac Center of Texas and Vein Clinic of Texas is located in McKinney Texas and serves patients in Collin County and surrounding areas. We are close to Allen, Plano, Frisco, Prosper, Celina, Princeton, Farmersville, Fairview, Lucas and Parker and a short drive from Sherman and Denison.