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Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid Artery Disease

The carotid arteries supply blood to the brain. These are the arteries that you feel on each side of your neck. Carotid artery stenosis, sometimes referred to as carotid artery disease, refers to the condition whereby the carotid arteries narrow, usually due to the buildup of fatty substances and cholesterol deposits called plaque (plak). If the plaque deposits remain untreated, the artery may block completely leading to carotid artery occlusion. Carotid artery occlusion can in turn lead to a stroke. Stroke deprives your brain of oxygen. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die. Stroke is the fourth most common cause of death and the leading cause of permanent disability in the U.S. For this reason, the early diagnosis and management of carotid artery stenosis is a high priority for vascular doctors in Monmouth and Middlesex County.

Vein doctors in Monmouth and Middlesex County explain that the factors that place an individual at risk for developing carotid artery disease are similar to those for other types of heart disease. These includecarotid

Factors that increase your risk of carotid artery disease include:

  • High blood pressure. Excess pressure on artery walls can weaken them and make them more vulnerable to damage.
  • Tobacco use. Nicotine can irritate the inner lining of your arteries. Smoking also increases your heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Diabetes lowers your ability to process fats efficiently, placing you at greater risk of high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.
  • High blood-fat levels. High levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides, a blood fat, encourage the accumulation of plaques.
  • Family history. Your risk of carotid artery disease is higher if a relative has atherosclerosis or coronary artery disease.
  • Arteries become less flexible and more prone to injury with age.
  • Excess weight increases your chances of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and diabetes.
  • Sleep apnea. Spells of stopping breathing at night may increase your risk of stroke.
  • Lack of exercise. It contributes to conditions that damage your arteries, including high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

    You are more likely to develop carotid artery disease as you age. Only 1 percent of adults age 50 to 59 have significantly narrowed carotid arteries, but 10 percent of adults age 80 to 89 have this problem.

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