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Carotid Disease

Carotid disease causes stroke, one of the leading types of disability and death in the United States. But most people don’t know they have carotid disease because it progresses slowly and causes no symptoms. At their offices in Dearborn, Detroit, and Trenton, Michigan, the experienced cardiologists at ARK Cardiovascular & Arrhythmia Center provide screening to help prevent stroke. They also offer advanced treatments for carotid disease. To arrange a consultation, call your nearest office today, or use the online form to book an appointment.

Carotid Disease Q & A

What is carotid disease?

Carotid disease develops when arteries that supply blood to your head become narrowed or blocked. These arteries — the carotids — are on either side of your neck. They deliver blood that’s full of oxygen to your brain, so any reduction of blood flow could affect brain function.

Advanced carotid disease can limit blood flow so severely that it causes a stroke. Some people experience a warning in the shape of a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke. This event results from a temporary lack of blood to the brain but doesn’t cause permanent damage. However, if you have a TIA, your risk of a stroke is much higher.

What causes carotid disease?

Carotid disease usually results when cholesterol builds up and forms plaque inside the arteries. This condition, atherosclerosis, can also restrict blood flow in many other arteries.

You’re more likely to develop carotid disease if you have risk factors such as:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Family history of carotid disease
  • Being a smoker
  • Not doing enough exercise
  • Older age

If you’re at risk of getting carotid disease, the ARK Cardiovascular & Arrhythmia Center team recommends that you undergo carotid artery screening. 

This involves listening to the arteries in your neck to see if they’re making sounds to indicate a blood flow problem. Your provider might also do an arterial ultrasound to see how well the blood is pumping along the arteries.

How is carotid disease treated?

It’s sometimes possible to manage early-stage carotid disease with medications. These can reduce your blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and stop your blood from clotting too easily. It’s also important to address those risk factors you can change, like weight, quitting smoking, increasing your physical activity levels, and eating a low-fat diet.

If your carotid disease is more advanced and you’re at risk of a stroke, the ARK Cardiovascular & Arrhythmia Center team offers several treatment choices, including:

Carotid angioplasty and stenting

Carotid angioplasty widens the artery using a tiny balloon. Inflating the balloon when it’s inside the artery flattens the plaque. Your provider also fits a small mesh tube called a stent in the artery to help stop it from collapsing.

Carotid endarterectomy

Carotid endarterectomy involves removing the plaque with special instruments.

Both of these treatments use minimally invasive catheterization techniques. A catheter is a plastic pipe that fits inside the artery. Your provider makes a small incision large enough for the catheter and feeds it along the artery to the treatment site. They can then expand the balloon and fit the stent or scrape out the plaque.

To arrange a carotid disease screening and help prevent a stroke, call ARK Cardiovascular & Arrhythmia Center today, or book an appointment online.