CIS physicians have pioneered the use of carotid angioplasty and stenting to treat carotid artery disease. This minimally-invasive treatment method is a groundbreaking alternative to surgical options that previously prevailed as the only source of treatment. Our physicians evaluate each patient on a case-by case basis to determine the best course of treatment.
What is Carotid Artery Disease?
Carotid Artery Disease refers to blockages in the carotid arteries due to plaque buildup. Carotid arteries are blood vessels located in the sides of the neck that supply blood to the brain. Blockages in these arteries hinder blood flow to the brain, which can cause brain damage and lead to a stroke. What causes it? Plaque buildup in the arteries causes carotid artery disease. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, calcium and other tissues which block the artery, therefore restricting blood flow. Risk factors of carotid artery disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, personal or family history of cardiovascular disease, smoking, diabetes, increasing age, obesity, and physical inactivity.
What are the symptoms?
In its early stages, carotid artery disease does not show any symptoms. That is why the first sign of the disease is typically a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), caused by a lack of blood to the brain. Signs of stroke or TIA include sudden numbness in the face or on one side of the body, confusion, trouble speaking, dizziness, blurred vision, or severe headache.
How will my doctor know if I have Carotid Artery Disease?
Your cardiologist may order an ultrasound to test for Carotid Artery Disease. A carotid ultrasound is a painless test to show how well the blood is flowing in the carotid arteries. A physician may also perform a computerized tomography angiography (CTA), which involves using contrast dye to highlight the arteries so that a CT scanner can gather x-ray images of the vessels.
How is it treated?
If blockages are detected, treatment will be advised based on the severity of the blockages. Your physician may recommend a blood-thinning medication to help prevent clots. To treat more severe blockages, your physician may suggest a carotid angioplasty, where a balloon-like device is inserted into the artery through a catheter. The device expands and releases a device called a stent to keep the artery open.
What can I do to lessen my risk of Carotid Artery Disease?
- Get your cholesterol and blood pressure checked regularly
- Limit fat, cholesterol, and sodium in your diet
- Quit smoking
- Limit your alcohol intake to 1-2 drinks a day
- Exercise regularly, about 30 minutes a day