What is Carotid Stenosis
Carotid artery is an important blood vessel situated on the sides of the neck, under the jaw. The artery supplies blood to the brain and when a person has a blocked carotid artery, this may lead to a transient ischemic attack or worse, a stroke.
What is Carotid Stenosis? Carotid stenosis is a medical condition where the carotid arteries are narrowed often as a result of fatty deposits blocking the arteries. When the arteries are blocked, blood flow to the brain may be impeded which may eventually lead to stroke. Carotid Arteries A person’s carotid artery is situated just under the jaw, on both sides of the neck area. You know that part of the side of the neck where, when you place your finger on the surface you can detect a pulse? That is where your carotid artery is. This is an essential blood vessel because it is responsible for providing ample blood supply to that part of the brain where your cognitive functions, speech, as well as motor and sensory functions are situated. When a person has a blocked carotid artery, it hinders blood to flow to the brain which puts an individual at a greater risk of having a stroke. When blood flow to the brain is completely blocked for more than three to six hours, damage to the brain may be irreversible. Risk Factors It is believed that men who are below seventy-five years of age have a higher risk of developing carotid stenosis than women within the same age bracket. On the other hand, women who are more than seventy-five years old are more at risk of developing this disease than men of the same age group. Apart from the age factor, other risk factors include smoking, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, diabetes, family history of the disease as well as history of heart disease, and obesity. Individuals who lead sedentary lives and those who are diagnosed with coronary artery disease are also at risk. Symptoms Unfortunately, there are no conclusive symptoms that can tell an individual if they have carotid stenosis or not. An individual may only be diagnosed as having this disease when symptoms of a stroke or a transient ischemic attack manifest themselves. It is therefore important that individuals be aware of the signs of stroke and TIA. A few symptoms of a stroke are the following: impaired vision in one or both eyes, tingling sensation on one side of the body or face, sudden occurrence of intense headache, impeded speech and confusion. With a TIA, the symptoms are almost the same as those of a stroke but these may only last a couple of minutes. When a person is suffering from TIA, it is important that medical help be immediately sought since this may develop into a full-blown stroke. Careful monitoring of the patient is therefore recommended.