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.
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.
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
Individuals who lead sedentary lives and those who are diagnosed with coronary artery
disease are also at risk.
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.