Your carotid artery runs along both sides of your neck and carries blood to your brain. It’s the artery you feel when you use your fingers to check your pulse in your neck.
Atherosclerosis is a condition in which plaque, a waxy material, builds up in your arteries. When atherosclerosis occurs in your carotid arteries, it causes carotid artery disease.
Plaque can narrow (a condition called carotid stenosis) or block these important arteries, making it difficult for your brain to get enough blood. As a result, you could develop a stroke or other medical problems.
Carotid artery disease treatment at Aurora includes:
The first symptom of carotid artery disease is usually a stroke or a mini-stroke called a transient ischemic attack (TIA).
A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flowing to your brain. A TIA is similar, but the clot blocks blood flow only for a short time and may not cause permanent damage.
TIA symptoms include:
Strokes can cause the same symptoms, as well as drooping in your face. If you or someone you love has any of these symptoms, call 911.
Treating a TIA can help prevent a stroke. And treating a stroke quickly can reduce your risk of long-term brain damage.
You’re more likely to develop carotid artery disease if:
The condition also is more common in men over age 45 and women over age 55.
Your doctor may examine you for possible carotid artery disease during a routine office visit. He or she will use a stethoscope to listen to blood flow through your carotid arteries.
A “bruit,” or whooshing sound, could indicate a narrowed artery. However, you could have carotid artery disease even if your doctor doesn’t detect a bruit.
To further test for carotid artery disease, we may recommend any of the following tests:
Find out more about heart and vascular testing and diagnosis at Aurora.
If you are in the early stages of carotid artery disease, you may be able to control it with:
If your symptoms are more serious, your doctor may recommend: