Carotid artery blockage treatment

What Are the Carotid Arteries?

The carotid arteries are two big blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood to the brain’s massive front section. Thinking, speech, personality, as well as sensory and motor processes, are all housed here. The carotid arteries on each side of your neck, just below the angle of your jaw line, are where you can feel your pulse.

What is carotid artery disease?

Carotid artery stenosis is another name for carotid artery disease. The narrowing of the carotid arteries is referred to as carotid stenosis. Plaque, an accumulation of fatty compounds and cholesterol deposits, is the most common cause of constriction. A full blockage of the carotid artery is referred to as a carotid artery occlusion. When the carotid arteries become clogged, you’re more likely to suffer a stroke, which is the fifth greatest cause of death in the United States.

What percentage of carotid artery blockage requires surgery?

If your carotid artery is narrowed by 50% to 69 percent, you may require more aggressive treatment, especially if you are experiencing symptoms. Carotid stenosis of more than 70% usually necessitates surgery.

Signs and Symptoms

Carotid artery disease frequently has no symptoms or indicators in its early stages. The disease may go undiscovered until it becomes severe enough to deprive your brain of blood, resulting in a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).

The following are signs and symptoms of a stroke or TIA:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face or limbs, often on only one side of the body
  • Sudden trouble speaking and understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness or loss of balance
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

When should you see a doctor?

If you notice any signs or symptoms of a stroke, seek medical help right once. Even if they just last a few minutes and then you feel OK, you should visit a doctor straight away. You may have had a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which is a warning indication that you’re in danger of having a full-blown stroke.

If you have risk factors for carotid artery disease, talk to your doctor. Even if you don’t have any signs or symptoms, your doctor may advise proactive risk factor treatment to keep you safe from stroke. Seeing a doctor early enhances your chances of having carotid artery disease detected and treated before suffering a severe stroke.

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How is carotid artery disease diagnosed?

Carotid artery disease may not have any symptoms. It is critical to undergo frequent physical exams if you are at risk.

A stethoscope will be used to listen to the arteries in your neck. A bruit (pronounced BROO-ee) is an irregular rushing sound that can indicate carotid artery damage. When there are obstructions, however, bruits are not always present, and they can be heard even when the blockage is slight.

The following are examples of diagnostic tests:

  • Carotid angiography (carotid angiogram, carotid arteriogram, carotid angio): A catheter (thin, flexible tube) is placed into a blood vessel in the arm or leg and guided to the carotid arteries using a specific X-ray machine. While X-rays of the carotid arteries are taken, contrast dye is administered through the catheter. This test can be used to assess or confirm the presence of narrowing or blockage in the carotid arteries, as well as to assess the risk of future stroke and the need for additional therapy, such as carotid stenting or surgery.
  • Carotid duplex ultrasonography is a diagnostic imaging process that uses high-frequency sound waves to view the carotid arteries and assess if they are narrowed. This is the most common test used to determine whether or not you have carotid artery disease.
  • MRA stands for magnetic resonance angiogram, which is a form of MRI scan that employs a magnetic field and radio waves to produce images of the carotid arteries. In many circumstances, MRA can provide information that an X-ray, ultrasound, or computed tomography (CT) scan cannot provide. The carotid and vertebral arteries, as well as the degree of stenosis, can be determined using this test.
  • Computerized tomography (CT Scan): If a stroke or TIA has already occurred, a CT scan of the brain may be conducted. X-rays flow through the body during a CT scan and are detected by detectors in the scanner, which generate three-dimensional (3D) images on a computer screen. A contrast material may be injected intravenously (into a vein) depending on the sort of scan you need so the radiologist can view the bodily structures on the CT image. This test may indicate parts of the brain that have been damaged.
  • CTA stands for computed tomography angiography, which is a test that employs modern CT technology and intravenous (IV) contrast material (dye) to produce high-resolution, three-dimensional images of the carotid arteries. Physicians can use CTA pictures to assess the degree of stenosis in the carotid and vertebral arteries, as well as the blood vessels that lead to these arteries and the blood vessels in the brain.


An accumulation of plaques in the arteries that transport blood to your brain causes carotid artery disease. Plaques are masses of cholesterol, calcium, fibrous tissue, and other cellular debris that form within the artery at tiny damage sites. Atherosclerosis is the medical term for this condition.

Plaques obstruct the carotid arteries, making them rigid and narrow. Carotid arteries that are clogged have difficulty providing oxygen and nutrients to essential brain areas that are important for your daily functioning.

Carotid artery disease risk factors

Carotid artery disease is caused by a variety of disorders that damage your arteries and put you at risk:

  • High blood pressure weakens the walls of your arteries, making them more vulnerable to injury.
  • Atherosclerosis is exacerbated by high cholesterol levels.
  • The ability of your body to process blood sugar can be harmed by diabetes. It raises your chances of having high blood pressure and developing atherosclerosis.
  • Obesity raises the risk of diabetes, hypertension, and atherosclerosis.
  • High blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity are all linked to a lack of physical activity.
  • The lining of your arteries can be irritated by smoking. It can also raise your blood pressure and heart rate.
  • As you become older, your arteries become stiffer and more vulnerable to injury.
  • A history of atherosclerosis in the family has been linked to an increased risk of carotid artery disease.


The purpose of carotid artery disease treatment is to prevent stroke. The extent of the blockage in your carotid arteries determines the therapy options.

If the obstruction is modest to severe, your doctor may suggest:

  • Atherosclerosis can be slowed down by making lifestyle modifications. Quitting smoking, losing weight, eating healthy meals, lowering salt intake, and exercising frequently are all possible recommendations.
  • Medication to decrease cholesterol or regulate blood pressure. To avoid blood clots, your doctor may also recommend taking aspirin or another blood-thinning drug on a daily basis.

Your doctor may consider removing the blockage from the artery if the obstruction is significant or if you’ve already had a TIA or stroke. Among the possibilities are:

  • The most common treatment for severe carotid artery disease is carotid endarterectomy. The surgeon accesses the damaged carotid artery and removes the plaques after creating an incision along the front of your neck. The artery is repaired with either a stent or a graft.
  • If the blockage is too difficult to access with carotid endarterectomy or you have other health issues that make surgery too risky, you may need carotid angioplasty and stenting. You’ll be given local anaesthetic, and a tiny balloon will be put through a catheter to the clog’s location. A thin wire mesh coil (stent) is introduced to keep the artery from narrowing again after the balloon is inflated to enlarge it.

Why Getting a Second Opinion about Surgery for Carotid Artery Disease is Important

“Because we give specific therapy suited to each patient’s needs,” Dr. Mullen explains, “having a second opinion from Penn ensures you’re getting the finest care for your carotid artery disease.” “Not only are we participating in cutting-edge research, but we also have the benefit of a multidisciplinary team that collaborates on each case.”

According to Dr. Kung, patients benefit greatly from this collaborative approach. “Our team includes neurologists, neurosurgeons, vascular surgeons, and radiologists, and we collaborate on a daily basis.” This encourages innovation and provides patients with expert care that extends beyond surgery.”

What is the carotid artery surgery success rate?

What are the advantages? A carotid stenting treatment can reduce the long-term risk of stroke from 2% to 1% each year. People with carotid artery narrowing of 60% to 70% or more are most likely to benefit from the operation.

Is it possible to prevent carotid artery disease?

You can take the following steps to reduce your risk of acquiring carotid artery disease:


  • Within a few years, quitting smoking can reduce your stroke risk to that of someone who does not smoke.
  • A diet low in cholesterol and fat will lower your risk of atherosclerosis.
  • Regular exercise can help you lower your blood pressure, raise your good cholesterol, and enhance your heart health.
  • Reducing your alcohol consumption may help your heart.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight can help you avoid carotid artery disease.

Managing diabetes and other chronic health disorders can also help you avoid long-term problems like carotid artery disease.

What Are the Recommended Lifestyle Changes for Carotid Artery Disease?
The following lifestyle adjustments are recommended to prevent carotid artery disease from progressing:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Keep your blood pressure in check.
  • Diabetes must be managed.
  • Consult your doctor on a frequent basis.
  • Have your cholesterol checked by a doctor and, if necessary, treated.
  • Eat a diet that is good for your heart.
  • Maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI).
  • Most days of the week, exercise for at least 30 minutes.
  • Limit yourself to one drink per day for ladies and two drinks per day for males.


Carotid artery blockage treatment

Carotid artery blockage treatment

Carotid artery blockage treatment

Mayo Clinic

Carotid artery blockage treatment

Carotid artery blockage treatment