Carotid Artery Disease (cont.)

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What are the risk factors for carotid artery disease?

The risk of narrowing carotid arteries is the same as the risk for those diseases associated with narrowing of arteries anywhere else in the body, including heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.

Those at risk include indivuals who smoke and those with high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, poorly controlled diabetes, family history of atherosclerosis, and advanced age.

Metabolic syndrome also increases the risk for carotid artery disease. It is a grouping of many of the above listed diseases and to make the diagnosis, three of five of the following need to be present:

What are the symptoms of carotid artery disease?

Carotid artery disease in itself has no symptoms. It is only when blood flow to parts of the brain is decreased that the diagnosis is made. Decreased blood supply to the brain may result in either a TIA (transient ischemic attack) or stroke (CVA, or cerebrovascular accident).

A transient ischemic attack is a stroke-like group of symptoms that resolves on its own and should be considered a warning sign that a stroke is imminent.

Symptoms for a TIA may include:

While the symptoms tend to resolve on their own in a few minutes, they may last up to 24 hours.

Signs and symptoms of a stroke are similar to a TIA but the effects are permanent without successful treatment.

Since there is no way of knowing whether the symptoms will resolve, any of these symptoms should be considered a medical emergency and the patient or family should call 911 to activate the emergency medical services. Individuals who are having stroke symptoms may be candidates for treatment with clot busting drugs or thrombolytics, but the treatment must be initiated within 3 to 4½ hours from the first onset of these symptoms.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/5/2015

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