Carotid Artery Disease
Carotid artery disease occurs when the major arteries in the neck become
narrowed or blocked. These arteries supply blood from the heart to the
brain. Carotid artery disease is a serious health problem because it can
cause a stroke.
Blood Supply to the Brain
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Carotid artery disease is caused by the build-up of plaque along the
lining of the arteries. This build-up is known as atherosclerosis.
Plaque is made up of cholesterol, fat, and other substances.
Family history of atherosclerosis
Coronary artery disease
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) disease of the arteries (usually
in the legs) caused by fatty build-up
Age – men aged 75 or younger, women aged 75 years or older
High blood pressure
There are usually no symptoms. Tell your doctor if you have symptoms of
a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA or mini-stroke). This is a
warning sign that you may have carotid artery disease. Symptoms may
Blindness, blurry or dim vision
Weakness, numbness, or tingling of the face, arm, leg, or one
side of the body
Difficulty speaking or understanding words
Dizziness, unsteadiness of gait, or falling
Trouble with balance or coordination
Loss of consciousness
Nausea or vomiting
Sudden confusion or loss of memory
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical
exam will be done. Your doctor will listen for irregular blood flow in
the carotid arteries with a stethoscope. Tests may include:
Carotid ultrasonography – uses a device placed on the side of
the neck to detect the narrow parts of the arteries
Computer tomography angiography (CTA) – uses computer enhanced
X-ray images and a special liquid injected into the blood to
examine blood flow through the arteries
Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) – magnetic fields and a
special liquid injected into the blood to make images of the
Treatments Offered at the Center for Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
The following procedures are offered for the treatment of carotid artery
disease when the arteries have severe plaque build-up:
Carotid Endarterectomy. During a carotid endarterectomy
surgical procedure, the inner lining of the carotid artery is
removed if it has become thickened or damaged. This procedure
eliminates a substance called plaque from the artery and can
restore blood flow.
Carotid Stenting. This type of procedure is a less
invasive surgery in which a balloon is inserted into the artery
to widen it. Then a metal mesh tube, called a stent, is inserted
which expands the inside the carotid artery to increase blood
flow in areas blocked by plaque.
To help reduce your chance of getting carotid artery disease, you will
need to decrease the risk factors that you can control. For example, you
can reduce your cholesterol, blood pressure and weight. Here are some
steps to decrease these risk factors:
Eat more fruits and vegetables . Limit dietary salt and fat.
If you drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. This means
having no more than two drinks per day if you are a man, and no
more than one drink per day if you are woman.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Keep your blood pressure in a safe range. Follow your doctor's
recommendations if you have high blood pressure.
Keep other conditions under control. This includes high
cholesterol and diabetes.
At the Center for Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, every patient meets
with one of our highly skilled,
Conditions and Treatments
Vascular disease comes in many different forms and our world class
surgeons are experts at diagnosing and treating a wide-spectrum
of vascular diseases.
Cosmetic Vein Center
St. Elizabeth’s Cosmetic Vein
Center offers both cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of varicose
veins and spider veins.
The Vascular Lab provides
many types of testing and diagnostic services to help diagnosis a
variety of vascular diseases.
Many patients who come to the Center for Vascular and Endovascular
Surgery at St. Elizabeth's have
a story to share about their care, recovery, and success after
surgery or other treatments.
Center for Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
St. Elizabeth's Medical Center
736 Cambridge Street
Brighton, MA 02135