Carotid arteriopathy

Carotid arteriopathy. It is a condition in which these arteries are narrow or blocked. When the arteries narrow, the condition is called carotid stenosis.

The carotid arteries supply the main blood supply to the brain. There, the carotid arteries are located on either side of the neck below the jaw line.


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  • 1 Alternative names
  • 2 Causes
  • 3 Symptoms
  • 4 Tests and reviews
  • 5 Treatment
  • 6 Forecast
  • 7 Possible complications
  • 8 Prevention
  • 9 Sources

Alternative names

Carotid stenosis; Carotid stenosis.


Carotid artery disease occurs when sticky, fatty substances called plaque build up on the inner lining of the arteries. Plaque can slowly block or narrow the carotid artery or cause a clot (thrombus) to form. Clots can lead to a stroke. Risk factors for blockage or narrowing of the arteries include:

  • Arterial hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Kidney disease, especially when dialysis is needed
  • Consumption of cocaine
  • Family history of stroke
  • Older

Smoking is also a risk factor and increases the risk of most types of stroke. People who smoke one pack a day have a more than twice the risk of having a stroke compared to nonsmokers.

Two rare conditions called Marfan syndrome and fibromuscular dysplasia (abnormal growth or development of cells in the walls of the carotid arteries) can also cause narrowing of these arteries.


You may not have any symptoms. You may have symptoms of a stroke or transient ischemic accident (TIA). Some of these symptoms include:

  • Weakness in one part of the body
  • Blurry vision
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Problems with speech and language
  • Loss of sensation

Tests and exams

The doctor will carry out a physical exam. He can hear an abnormal sound called a murmur when he uses a stethoscope to listen to blood flow in the neck. A physical exam can also reveal clots in the blood vessels of the eye. If you have had a stroke or TIA, a neurological exam will reveal other problems. The following tests can be done:

  • Blood tests to check cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Blood glucose(glucose) test
  • Ultrasoundof the carotid arteries (duplex or carotid Doppler study) to see how well blood is flowing through this artery

The following imaging studies can be used to examine the blood vessels in the neck and brain:

  • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA)
  • Computed tomography (ATC) angiography
  • Brain or carotid angiography


Treatment options include:

  • No different treatment than checking the carotid artery with exams every year
  • Medicine and diet to lower cholesterol and control blood pressure
  • Anticoagulants to lower the risk of stroke; some of these medications are acetylsalicylic acid, clopidogrel (Plavix), and warfarin (Coumadin)

Surgery, called a carotid endarterectomy, to remove build-up in the carotid arteries can help prevent new strokes from occurring in people with large blockages in their cervical arteries.


Stroke is a leading cause of death worldwide. Some people with this problem regain most or all of their functions. Others die from the stroke itself or from complications. About half of people who have a stroke have long-term problems.

Possible complications

The major complications associated with carotid artery disease are:

  • Transient ischemic accident(TIA). This is an episode in which a person has stroke-like symptoms for less than 24 hours, usually less than 1 to 2 hours. A TIA is often considered a warning sign that a stroke may develop in the future if something is not done to prevent it.
  • Stroke. It can happen when a blood vessel is blocked in any part of the brain. Blood through the narrow carotid artery can become so slow that a clot forms. A stroke can also occur if a small piece of a blood clot breaks off and travels to a smaller artery in the brain.


The following can help prevent a stroke:

  • Avoid fatty foods. Follow a healthy, low-fat diet.
  • Do not drink more than 1 to 2 alcoholic drinks a day.
  • Exercise regularly: 30 minutes a day if you are not overweight; otherwise, 60 to 90 minutes a day.
  • Give up smoking.
  • Have your blood pressure checked every 1 to 2 years, especially if high blood pressureoccurs in the family. If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or have had a stroke, you need more frequent checkups. Ask the doctor.
  • Everyone should keep their blood pressure below 120-130 / 80 mmHg. If you have diabetesor have had a stroke, you may need to work hard to achieve lower blood pressure. Ask the doctor what it should be.
  • Adults should have their cholesterol checked every 5 years and treated, if necessary. If you have been treated for high cholesterol, you will need more frequent checkups.
  • If you have diabetes, heart disease, or arteriosclerosiselsewhere in the body, your “bad” LDL cholesterol should be less than 70 mg / dL.
  • Follow the doctor’s therapeutic recommendations if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease.


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