6 Things You Should Know About Carotid Artery Disease - Peripheral Vascular Associates
6 Things You Should Know About Carotid Artery Disease - Peripheral Vascular Associates

6 Things You Should Know About Carotid Artery Disease


Decreased blood supply to the brain can lead to a transient ischemic attack (TIA), or a stroke. Due to narrowing carotid arteries from atherosclerosis, also known as plaque buildup in the arteries, carotid artery disease can increase your risk for stroke. Get answers to the most commonly asked questions about this vascular disease, and learn what you can do to prevent yourself or a loved one from developing carotid artery disease.

Located on each side of your neck are two common carotid arteries- dividing into the internal and external carotid arteries- which provide blood supply to the face, neck and lower extremities while simultaneously supplying blood to the brain. As plaque builds up in these arteries, due to dangerous lifestyle factors and other vascular health factors, the risk for developing carotid artery disease increases.

“How can you prevent carotid artery disease?” “What are your treatment options for carotid artery disease, and how can PVA help?” These are commonly asked questions that patients ask our vascular specialists, often due to the lack of awareness surrounding this vascular disease. Part of our goal is to educate the community about vascular disease and help patients better understand what they can do to combat their risk for developing vascular disease.

Read our FAQs about carotid artery disease and let us know if you would like to schedule a vascular screening or receive more information about minimally-invasive treatment and vascular surgery options.

What is carotid artery disease?

Carotid artery disease is a form of atherosclerosis, or plaque buildup in the two main arteries in the neck, referred to as the common carotid arteries. The carotid arteries are vital as they feed oxygenated blood to the brain.

How is carotid artery disease related to stroke?

Small fragments of plaque in the carotid arteries can break loose and potentially cause a stroke, also known as a brain attack. Carotid artery disease is estimated to be the source of stroke in up to a third of cases, and there are 400,000 new diagnoses of carotid artery disease every year in the U.S. PVA surgeons are the vascular experts who are committed to stroke education, prevention and treatment.

What are the global stroke statistics?

Every year, 15 million people worldwide suffer from a stroke. Nearly 6 million people die and another 5 million are left permanently disabled.

How do you know if someone has carotid artery disease?

Unfortunately, many symptoms of carotid artery disease are silent and can easily go undiagnosed. Vascular specialists can screen patients based on lifestyle risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and smoking. Certainly, if you are having symptoms of stroke (weakness/numbness on one side, loss of eyesight/speech, dizziness or fainting), you should seek immediate medical attention.

There are non-invasive methods to diagnose carotid artery disease. The most common method involves your vascular physician using a stethoscope to listen to the blood flow around your artery, then using an ultrasound test to see inside the carotid artery to determine how much plaque has built up. Based on these results, the physician can then inform you of recommended treatment options.

How can I prevent carotid artery disease?

Like every other vascular disease, the best thing to do is to eat healthy, exercise, and avoid smoking. If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, talk to your vascular physician about being on the right medications to manage these conditions. If these risk factors are well controlled, patients can reduce the likelihood of their carotid artery symptoms developing into carotid artery disease.

How can carotid artery disease be treated?

We have minimally-invasive treatments and surgical options to treat carotid artery disease. Our first choice is always the least invasive method of treatment for our patients. You can find details on these treatments on our conditions page for Carotid Artery Disease. If the advancement of your disease requires surgery to remove plaque from your arteries we offer the carotid endarterectomy and transcarotid artery revascularization (TCAR) procedures. The TCAR procedure is an innovative and highly effective procedure that uses blood flow reversal technologies to assist in plaque removal and carotid stent placement. The TCAR procedure has also demonstrated the lowest stroke rate in clinical studies to date, and our vascular surgeons have successfully performed over a dozen surgeries on patients who were considered high risk for a carotid endarterectomy.

Peripheral Vascular Associates is proud to serve the San Antonio community and surrounding areas in vascular disease education, prevention, and treatment for over 40 years. Our vascular physicians are dedicated to helping our patients better understand how we can help them with vascular disease. If you would like more information about carotid artery disease or individual vascular health assessments, please contact us or schedule an appointment at (210) 237-4444. Our doctors of arteries and veins are experts in vascular stroke prevention in San Antonio.

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