What is carotid artery stenosis?
Carotid artery stenosis is a narrowing of the artery located on either side of the neck. This artery carries blood to the head, face and brain.
The narrowing is usually the result atherosclerosis, a buildup of plaque. Left untreated, it can completely block the artery and cause a stroke.
Carotid artery stenosis risk factors
Risk factors for carotid artery stenosis include:
- High blood pressure
- Sedentary lifestyle
Not all people with carotid artery stenosis will experience symptoms, but those who do may have:
- Blurry vision
- Fainting spells
The treatment goal for carotid artery stenosis is to prevent a stroke.
If the blockage is mild, lifestyle changes to control plaque buildup may be recommended, including:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising more
- Quitting smoking
If the blockage is severe or a stroke has already occurred, procedures may be necessary to remove the blockage.
Carotid angioplasty and stenting
A minimally invasive cerebral angiogram involves inserting a small catheter fitted with special tools into the femoral artery, a blood vessel located in the groin.
The catheter is then threaded up into the carotid artery. Balloons or a stent is then used to reopen the blocked vessel and restore proper blood flow.
During a carotid endarterectomy, a vascular neurosurgeon accesses the artery through an opening in the neck to remove the plaque and restore blood flow to the brain.