Carotid Artery Disease: 3 Ways You Can Lower Your Risk for Stroke

Carotid artery disease causes narrowing in the carotid arteries, which are located in the neck. Carotid artery disease is especially worrisome because there usually aren't any symptoms associated with the condition until there is a major problem. Many people don't even realize they have a problem until they have a stroke or major event that cuts blood flow off from part of the brain. The damage done during these events can be devastating and permanent. Therefore, it's vital that you understand the condition, get an early diagnosis, and take steps to prevent a major event, such as a stroke.  

Eliminate Your Risk Factors

People with coronary artery disease are more at risk for developing carotid artery disease and the latter usually occurs several years after the former. For this reason, people with coronary artery disease should remain more vigilant and concerned about carotid blockages. Certain risk factors that are in your control can also contribute to the condition. Take care to remove all risk factors from your life, such as smoking, high cholesterol, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, high blood pressure, and diabetes. If you have a family history of artery blockages and disease, you should remain extra vigilant.

See Your Doctor Regularly

Since you probably won't have symptoms, you will have to rely on your doctor to diagnose carotid artery disease before a major event happens. One of the most common ways doctors diagnose the condition is by listening to the blood pass through the carotid arteries with a stethoscope. If a strange sound, called a bruit, is detected, a blockage may be present. Your doctor will likely order more tests, such as an ultrasound, carotid angiogram, or computerized tomography if they suspect a blockage or feel like you're at an increased risk for one. 

Seek Treatment for Narrow Arteries

If you have narrowing carotid arteries, you should take steps to remedy your situation before a stroke occurs. Take your medications and make all lifestyle changes recommended by your doctor. You might also want to consider undergoing a treatment to improve blood flow through the arteries. Procedures used to correct this condition include carotid artery stenting and carotid endarterectomy.

Carotid artery disease is a serious condition that normally does not have symptoms but can lead to a devastating event, such as a stroke. It's vital that you eliminate as many risk factors as possible and get checked by your doctor regularly. If you have carotid artery disease, be sure to follow all of your doctor's instructions. For more information on your conditions and options, seek help from resources like Premier Surgical Associates.