Carotid Stenosis

The carotid arteries are deep in the neck on either sides of the larynx (windpipe). They carry blood from the heart to the brain and other parts of the head.

As people age, the flow of blood through the carotid arteries can become obstructed or blocked due to a build-up of plaque, known as atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries”. The narrowing caused by plaque is called a stenosis.

Causes

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Family History

Symptoms

Ulcers can form on the surface of the plaque and blood clots then form on the surface of the ulcers. These clots and particles of plaque can dislodge and travel to the brain, causing a TIA or stroke.

TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack)

Symptoms can last from a few minutes to few hours and include weakness or numbness on one side of the body, slurred speech, and visual disturbance.

Stroke

Symptoms are the same as a TIA but do not resolve.

Amaurosis Fugax

A visual disturbance lasting a few minutes or a few hours, often described as a shade is being pulled over the eye.

Treatment

In some patients, surgical treatment to remove plaque may be effective in reducing the risk of stroke.

The surgical procedure to treat carotid stenosis is a carotid endarterectomy.