STROKE & CAROTID ARTERY DISEASE

Take preventative measures to live a healthier, longer life!

Carotid Artery
WHAT IS CAROTID ARTERY DISEASE?

The large arteries that supply most of the blood to the brain are called the carotid arterties.  They are located on the right and left side of your neck. Carotid artery disease occurs when these arteries become narrowed or blocked due to plaque build-up (atherosclerosis) or a blood clot.

Carotid artery disease increases your risk for stroke.  If you have carotid artery disease you probably have advanced coronary artery disease as well.

3 WAYS CAROTID ARTERY DISEASE INCREASES YOUR RISK FOR STROKE:
  • Fatty deposits (cholesterol) that have accumulated in the artery wall severly narrow the carotid arteries, reducing blood flow to the brain.

  • A blood clot becomes wedged in a carotid artery that has narrowed because of atherosclerosis, causing reduced blood flow and stroke.

  • Plaque breaks off or ruptures from the carotid arteries.  It travels to a smaller artery in the brain where it cuts off the blood supply to a portion of the brain.

Ultrasound screening can assess the condition of the carotid arteries early before tragedy strikes!


WHAT IS A STROKE?


Stroke is 
a sudden loss of blood supply to a part of the brain caused by a blockage or rupture of a blood vessel. When a stroke occurs, brain cells are killed damaging the affected area of the brain so it cannot function properly.  

Many adults die from stroke, approximately one death every 3.1 minutes. Strokes cause death or disability in over 60 percent of all cases.

Strokes can have a profound impact on the central nervous system and the musculo-skeletal system, affecting how a person thinks, speaks, sees, and moves.  After a stroke, it may be more difficult to take care of yourself or perform adequately at your job or vocation.  Many victims of stroke can recover some or all of their skills with speech and physical therapy.

A mild stroke may be a precursor of a more serious and damaging one.  Often people experience what is known as T.I.A. or Transient Ischemic Attack.  These attacks can occur before a major stroke and should be treated to attempt to prevent a stroke.


WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF A STROKE?

Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or high blood pressure, in most cases, is the cause of a stroke.  These may result in the following: 
  • Cerebral hemorrage, a vessel ruptures and bleeds into the brain, damaging surrounding brain tissue.

  • Embolism, a blood clot from another part of the body or a piece of cholesterol from the wall of the diseased artery breaks away and blocks a blood vessel or artery in the brain.

  • Thrombosis, a blood vessel or artery that narrows severly or completely, decreasing blood flow to the brain.




WHO IS AFFECTED BY A STROKE?

  • Adults over the age of 40 are most likely to have a stroke.  Younger adults and children can also fall victim but with less frequency.

  • About the same amount of adult males and females statistically have strokes.

  • All races are at risk for stroke.  African Americans are nearly twice as likely to die from a stroke as caucasians.  If they survive, they often have more severe damage.

  • People with heart disease, carotid artery disease and high blood pressure are at increased risk for a stroke.



 WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS OF A STROKE?

Do not ignore the signs of a stroke.  Even if you feel better in a few minutes, you may have had a T.I.A. (Transient Ischemic Attack) or mini-stroke.  

T.I.A. may put you at risk for a larger full blown stroke.  Without treatment, nearly 50 percent of people who experience a T.I.A.  will have a stroke within 5 years.

Call 911 or have someone call for you if you have any of these warning signs:
  • Facial numbness
  • Loss of muscle function on one side of your body
  • Weakness or numbness in arms or legs
  • Impaired vision; loss of some or all of your sight in one or both eyes or double vision
  • Severe headache for no apparent reason
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Sudden fall
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control


HOW CAN YOU LOWER YOUR RISK OF CAROTID ARTERY DISEASE & STROKE?
  • Control your blood pressure!  High blood pressure contributes greatly to your  chances of having a stroke.  1 out of 3 people with high blood pressure do not even know they have it.  Get your blood pressure checked often!

  • If you smoke - STOP!  Smoking can cause blood clots as well as increase your blood pressure. Seek help from your doctor, pharmacist or nurse about ways to quit.  We know it is not always easy, but if you try to stay with a program you can do it!

  • If you have diabetes, control it!  Diabetes can damage blood vessels in the brain and increase your risk of a stroke.  Follow your doctor's advice!

  • Exercise daily!  Exercise makes your heart more efficient and improves blood flow.  It can also help you control your weight. 

  • Reduce your stress level!  See our section on Stress Control.


      YOUR RISK INCREASES WITH: