Carotid Artery Disease

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What is Carotid Disease?

The carotid arteries supply oxygenated blood to the large front of the brain.

This part of the brain controls thought, speech and personality as well as our sensory (our ability to feel) and motor(our ability to move) functions.

Carotid artery disease is the name given to narrowing(stenosis) of one or both of the carotid arteries, located at the front of your neck.

Carotid artery disease is a major cause of stroke. It is also more common in older people who have had a stroke.

Treatment:

Medication

All patients with carotid artery disease can benefit from taking aspirin and a statin and by treating their individual risk factors.

The benefit if the aspirin is to reduce the stickiness of small blood cells called platelets which adhere to the irregular surface of the plaque, but can then break off as a small clump.

The benefit of a statin is partly in reducing the cholesterol, which was the initial reason for them being developed, but they also appear to reduce the tendency for atherosclerotic plaques to crack and so even patients with low cholesterol will benefit from taking them.

Carotid Endarterectomy

A carotid endarterectomy usually takes one to two hours to perform. When the surgeon has access to the carotid artery, the artery is clamped to stop blood flowing through it and an opening is made across the length of the narrowing. Once the narrowing has been removed, the opening in the artery will then wither closed with stitches or a special patch. The surgeon will check for any bleeding. The cut in your neck will be closed after any bleeding has stopped. A small tube(drain) may be left in the wound to drain away any blood that might build up after the operation. This is usually removed the following day.