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Carotid Artery Blockage

The carotid artery is in charge with blood supply of the head and brain. In carotid artery blockage of the blood supply is decreased which, if lasts long enough, can cause damage to the brain and its functions.

The blockage is a result of accumulation of fat, cholesterol and calcium. The process in which these substances attach to the wall of arteries is known as atherosclerosis. The reduction of blood flow occurs due to narrowing of the affected blood vessel, in this case carotid artery.

Treatment for Carotid Artery Blockage

The problem related to carotid artery blockage is that people in majority of cases do not even know that their carotid arteries are narrowed. The first symptoms may be related to certain complications such as TIA- transitory ischemic attack or even worse - stroke. If one has suffered TIA the symptoms usually include intensive headache, numbness or tingling of certain body parts, blurred vision or slurred speech. After being hospitalized patients are examined and auscultatory examination of carotid arteries usually reveals the specific sound related to disturbed blood flow through the blocked arteries. Further examinations such as ultrasound of the neck and large blood vessels of the neck visualize the blockage and some additional tests such as special type of X -ray test can also help in setting of the diagnosis.

There are several treatment modalities applied in patients suffering from carotid artery blockage. They include lifestyle changes, medications and surgery. The goal of the treatment is to stop further narrowing caused by atherosclerosis and prevent some of the potential complications of the blockage such as stroke. Which treatment is going to be applied basically depends on the symptoms, age of the patients and their overall health.MedicationsIn mild cases of the disease patients are prescribed medications. These medications are supposed to prevent further blockage of carotid arteries. In most cases patients are prescribed Aspirin and warfarin. Their main purpose is to prevent hypercoagulation and occurrence of blood clots. Patients who are suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes need to take proper medications and bring those conditions under control since both, increased blood pressure and diabetes, represent a risk factor for the occurrence and further development of atherosclerosis.Dietary ChangesApart from being given medications patients are due to change their eating habits and avoid food rich in saturated fats and sodium. Diet should include lean meat, fish and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. White flour and sugar should be avoided as well.Lifestyle ChangesLifestyle changes include elimination of all the bad habits which may contribute to the disease. They include smoking and heavy drinking. People also have to lose weight if they are obese, to maintain adequate levels of blood pressure and sugar and to increase physical activity.SurgeryIn patients whose arteries are seriously blocked there is no other option, but carotid artery surgery. There are two approaches, carotid endarterectomy and angioplasty.

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