Carotid arteries are the major arteries in the neck that supply oxygen-rich blood to the brain. When the carotid arteries become clogged or constricted by a build up of plaque (a sticky substance made up of cholesterol, calcium and fibrous tissue), this is a serious medical condition known as carotid artery disease.
Clogged or constricted carotid arteries are very dangerous because they limit blood flow to the brain. Limited blood flow to the brain reduces brain function and also increases the risk of having a stroke, which can cause severe disability due to permanent brain damage and can even cause death.
Unfortunately, someone could have carotid artery disease and show absolutely no symptoms. One of the warning signs of carotid arterial disease, is the occurrence of something called a “mini-stroke” (or transient ischemic attack – TIA). A TIA is a temporary episode where a person experiences numbness or weakness in the arm, leg or face on one side of the body, loss of vision in one or both eyes, difficulty understanding what someone else is saying, slurred speech, difficulty talking, a loss of coordination, dizziness or confusion and/or trouble swallowing. This episode can last just a few minutes, or can continue for up to 24 hours.
If you have ever experienced any of the symptoms related to TIA, it is highly recommended that you get a vascular screening as soon as possible to see if you have any blockage in your carotid artery. Carotid artery blockage will only worsen with time, leading to a stroke, which can be fatal or that could leave you disabled for life.
There are certain conditions that put someone at higher risk of having a stroke. If any of the following apply to you, you are at higher risk of having a stroke and should have a stroke screening as soon as possible:
• 50 years old or older
• High Blood Pressure
• High Cholesterol
• Heart Disease
Depending on the extent of the blockage of your carotid artery, our Tampa vascular doctors may simply recommend lifestyle adjustments, medication, non-surgical invasive procedures or, as a last resort, carotid artery bypass surgery.
The non-surgical methods that our vascular surgeons use offer quick recovery time, leave minimal to no scars and restore healthy blood flow to the brain, eliminating the risk of stroke.