If an emboli (a bit of matter foreign to the bloodstream) breaks off and travels to the brain, it can cause stroke, or "mini" stroke, also called a TIA, for transient ischemic attack.
About one-third of all strokes are caused by narrowing of the neck arteries. Stroke is the third highest cause of death and the number one cause of disability in the United States.
- Numbness in the arms or legs, especially on just one side of the body
- Drooping of one side of the face
- Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
- Sudden memory loss
- Difficulty seeing from one or both eyes
- Poor physical coordination
- Severe headache
However, carotid artery disease can have no symptoms, with the person still at risk for stroke. Sometimes the condition can be detected during a physical examination, when a stethoscope placed on the neck over the artery picks up a swishing sound.
- Carotid Endarterectomy (CEA): Surgical removal of built-up plaque restores blood flow. An open surgery is a preferred treatment option for carotid artery disease.
MINIMALLY INVASIVE TECHNIQUES
- Carotid Angioplasty and Stenting: Guided to the blockage by a catheter, a balloon opens, pressing plaque against artery walls and restoring blood flow. A small metal tube (stent) is left to reinforce the artery and maintain the opening.