Carotid Stenosis is a narrowing or constriction of any part of the carotid arteries, usually caused by atherosclerosis. Carotid Stenosis occurs when fatty deposits (plaques) clog the blood vessels that deliver blood to your brain and head (carotid arteries). The blockage increases your risk of stroke, a medical emergency that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or seriously reduced.
In its early stages, carotid artery disease often doesn't produce any signs or symptoms. The condition may go unnoticed until it's serious enough to deprive your brain of blood, causing a stroke or TIA.
Signs and symptoms of a stroke or TIA include:
Carotid artery disease is caused by a buildup of plaques in arteries that deliver blood to your brain. Plaques are clumps of cholesterol, calcium, fibrous tissue and other cellular debris that gather at microscopic injury sites within the artery. This process is called atherosclerosis.
Carotid arteries that are clogged with plaques are stiff and narrow. Clogged carotid arteries have trouble delivering oxygen and nutrients to vital brain structures that are responsible for your day-to-day functioning.
The goal in treating carotid stenosis is to prevent a stroke. Specific treatments depend on the extent of blockage in your carotid arteries.
If blockage is mild to moderate, your doctor may recommend:
If blockage is severe, or if you've already had a TIA or stroke, your doctor may recommend removing the blockage from the artery. The options include:
Seek emergency care if you experience any signs or symptoms of stroke. Even if they last only a short while and then you feel normal, see a doctor right away. You may have experienced a TIA, an important sign that you're at risk of a full-blown stroke. Seeing a doctor early increases your chances that carotid artery disease will be found and treated before a disabling stroke occurs.