A clogged carotid artery can be a silent attacker. Mostly people only find out when an evaluation of the arteries shows that there’s a blockage. However, other times people are not able to detect their blocked vessels until it is too late, i.e a stroke manifests it. If there is a blockage in your carotid artery, the decision for the treatment is not an instant or minor one. There’s the question of when and how to remove the plaque buildup.
Treatment options include surgery, medication, and intervention. In some cases, medication is the only option. This is because in severe circumstances it boils down to whether or not you are even a candidate for surgery. The medical name used to describe a clot in one of the neck’s arteries is carotid artery disease. This is a condition in which plaque collection narrows or blocks arteries, also known as carotid stenosis.
Symptoms And Diagnosis Of Carotid Stenosis
In most cases, there are no symptoms of carotid artery disease. However, sometimes a Transient Ischemic Attack, also called a mini-stroke, hints at carotid stenosis. Others get a full-blown stroke because of the blockage. When the latter happens, the following symptoms can show up:
- Weakness or numbness of a body part
- Reduced or lost vision
- Memory loss
- Swallowing difficulties
- Urinary or bowel incontinence
- Lethargy and sleepiness
- Personality changes
Specialists conduct a series of tests to determine if you have carotid artery disease. For this purpose, they check for a swooshing bruit using a stethoscope. They also study imaging through CT and MRI scans plus conduct a doppler ultrasound.
When The Blockage Is Up To 80%
A carotid stenosis of above 70% is considered dangerous and may call for surgery. In most cases, if there is no sign of a stroke or any symptoms doctors don’t recommend surgery until the artery is blocked up to 80%. However, treatment options vary based on the health profile of patients.
The purpose of surgery is to prevent stroke. However, stroke is also its biggest risk factor which is why doctors carefully weigh which option to go for. Medical management includes the use of statins, anti-hypertensive drugs as well as aspirin-like drugs.
What Happens When The Artery Is 100% Blocked?
You’d think that a 100% blocked carotid artery is equals to death. And though it’s a pretty bad scenario, it’s not the end. People also live with completely blocked carotid arteries. This is because if one artery is blocked, the three other arteries that provide the brain with blood still do their job.
Basically, the body has the mechanism of re-routing blood. This is why some people have a fully blocked carotid artery and yet they don’t have any symptoms. When an artery is 100% blocked, surgery is avoided because of the risks of stroke and death. Doctors prescribe meds and keep a close eye on other arteries to ensure that their health is not compromised.