Carotid artery disease seldom causes symptoms, yet it’s a major cause of stroke in American adults. At Nelson Menezes Vascular Specialist PC in Brooklyn Heights and Fort Greene, Brooklyn, Dr. Menezes offers screenings to determine your risk, recommendations to prevent artery problems, and comprehensive treatment for carotid artery disease. To schedule an appointment, use the online booking system or call your nearest New York City office today.
You have two carotid arteries that carry blood from your heart to your brain. Carotid artery disease occurs when the blood flow is blocked due to atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis develops when cholesterol and other substances build up on the artery wall, gradually hardening and forming plaque. As plaque accumulates and enlarges, it narrows the artery and blocks blood flow.
In most cases, carotid artery disease doesn’t cause symptoms until the blockage grows large enough to cause a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).
A TIA occurs when blood flow to your brain is briefly blocked, then returns on its own. As a result, you don’t suffer brain damage. When you have a stroke, the blood supply is cut off and doesn’t improve until you get treatment, resulting in the death of brain cells.
Stroke and TIA cause the same symptoms, but they may be too mild and brief to notice during a TIA. The primary symptoms are:
If you experience one or more of these symptoms, get emergency medical care.
After performing an examination and diagnostic imaging to verify you have carotid artery disease, Dr. Menezes creates a customized treatment plan that includes one or more of the following:
You can prevent atherosclerosis, or slow down disease progression, with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and losing weight if needed. It’s also important to stop smoking.
Dr. Menezes may prescribe one of several medications to prevent blood clots, thin your blood, control blood pressure, or lower your cholesterol.
Dr. Menezes performs a carotid endarterectomy to remove the blockage and restore normal blood flow. If you’re not a good candidate for surgery, he may recommend a minimally invasive procedure called balloon angioplasty.
During a balloon angioplasty, a small catheter is guided through your arteries to the blockage. A balloon passed over a wire, is used to open the artery by pushing the plaque against the artery wall. Next a wire stent that stays in place, is implanted to hold the artery open.