Carotid Stenosis 101
Picture this. You finally took the leap, bought a motorhome and are now on the trip of a lifetime. Plans include visits with all the grandkids, hobby shops and tourist traps you can find along the way. It’s a lovely day just tooling down the highway when your vision goes a little wonky. You start to say something to your partner about it, but the words just won’t come out right and you’re confused about what exactly is going on. Next thing you know, you’re in a medical facility with nurses and doctors bustling about. They use and try to explain terms like Atherosclerosis, Stenosis, Carotid Artery Disease and TIA, but none of it makes sense. What on earth is going on?
To begin, we all have veins and arteries. Arteries generally carry blood away from the heart. Over time, cholesterol and triglycerides may build up and harden in an artery, forming a substance called plaque. This process of buildup and hardening of plaque is called Atherosclerosis.
When atherosclerosis happens in a Carotid Artery in the neck, it’s called Carotid Stenosis or Carotid Artery Disease. The Carotid Arteries supply oxygen and nutrients to the brain and face. This explains why vision and mental acuity are affected when their blood flow is reduced. When a blood vessel is restricted with plaque, blood pressures increase and in turn, a part of the plaque may break off, forming a blood clot. This clot may travel to the brain and interrupt blood supply to part(s) of the brain. A decreased supply of blood to the brain may result in either a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or a Stroke. Fortunately, a TIA generally resolves on its own within 24 hours, but it should be treated as your alert that a stroke is forthcoming.
Unclogging the Pipes
In diagnosing a patient with Carotid Stenosis, one or more scans will be made of the arteries in question. If an artery is blocked 50% or more, it may be recommended to perform a Carotid Endarterectomy. This procedure involves opening the artery and cleaning out the plaque while the patient is under general sedation. Patients are often able to go home within 48 hours of the procedure and back to normal activity within a month.
If you or a loved one have experienced a TIA or stroke, or if you have a family history of Carotid Stenosis, contact Dr. Benvenisty to schedule a consultation. Dr. Benvenisty is an award-winning vascular surgeon with experience in all types of vascular conditions and can aid you in getting back on the road and living your best life.
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