VASCULAR CONDITIONS

Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid Artery Disease

Overview

There are two carotid arteries in the neck, one on either side, which supplies blood flow to the brain. These main common carotid arteries divide into two branches. The internal carotid artery branch supplies blood flow to the part of the brain which controls speech, personality, thinking, sensory (what you feel), and motor function (your movements). A disease-free carotid artery is smooth which allows blood to flow through it freely. A diseased carotid artery is narrowed or blocked by atherosclerosis. A piece of plaque can break off from the carotid artery and block smaller arteries in the brain. This event may cause a Cerebral Vascular Accident, or Stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA), and lead to brain damage or death.

Signs & Symptoms:

• Slurred speech or difficulty talking or understanding words
• Numbness or weakness of the face or body, usually affecting one side of the body
• Inability to move your limbs
• Visual problems; difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
• Loss of balance
• Severe headache which has a sudden onset dizziness
• Vertigo
• Drop Attacks (a sudden spontaneous falling to the ground from a standing position, not usually associated with a loss of consciousness)

Concerns

STROKE RISK

This condition may be present for a long time before symptoms appear. When symptoms do occur, stroke or brief stroke-like attacks are common.

WHAT IS STROKE

When blood flow to a part of your brain is stopped, you can have a stroke. Without oxygen and nutrients from the blood, brain cells die quickly. A stroke can damage your brain. It can even kill you. According to The National Stroke Association, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S.

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