Carotid Artery Disease: Risks, Diagnosis, Treatment

The carotid arteries in your neck are the primary blood vessels that carry blood to your eyes and brain. There are two carotid arteries in your spine: one on the right side and one on the left. When blood flow into your carotid artery is blocked, you have carotid artery disease. Your eyes and brain can not work properly if you do not get enough oxygen from your blood. You may feel weakness or numbness on one side of your body, and you may lose vision on that side.

Causes of Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid Artery Disease

Plaque is formed as fluid builds up in your arteries. The arteries narrow or harden as a result of this buildup. Plaque fragments may break off and enter the bloodstream, causing blood flow to the eyes and brain to slow or stop.

Vision Problems That May Be a Warning Sign of Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid Artery Disease

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your primary care physician or an ophthalmologist right away.

A vision that appears as though a curtain has been drawn over your eye. This may be caused by a TIA (transient ischemic attack, or “mini-stroke”), which is a temporary blockage of your carotid artery. It could last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. This may be an indication that your carotid artery is about to become blocked. Make an appointment with your doctor right away.

Side vision loss or complete vision loss. A stroke may be the cause of this and muscle weakness or paralysis on one side of the body. If the carotid artery is entirely blocked, this may happen.

Carotid Artery Disease Affects a Wide Range of People

Carotid Artery Disease

Those that are at a higher risk of carotid artery disease include those who:
● smoke
● have a high cholesterol
● drink a large amount of alcohol
● are overweight or obese
● have high blood pressure
● are physically inactive
● have a history of carotid artery disease in the family

Diagnosis
Certain forms of body scans can be used as part of the examination. These scans will reveal how well the carotid arteries are functioning. To check for blocked blood vessels, your ophthalmologist can dilate (widen) your pupils and examine the back of your eye.

Treatment

Carotid Artery Disease

Your physicians will handle your carotid artery disease as a team. Your care can include the following:
● medicine to decrease the blood pressure
● surgery to clear a blocked portion of the carotid artery
● blood-thinning drugs (such as aspirin) to help avoid blood clots

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