Your arteries are your blood’s network for delivering oxygen throughout your body. As such, you need these passageways to remain open and free-flowing.
If cholesterol, plaque, fat, or other substances build up in your arteries, you can develop atherosclerosis, which is a narrowing of your arteries. A total blockage can deprive your brain, heart, and extremities of oxygen, and without it, your tissues can die after about 3-4 minutes.
Muthu Velusamy, MD, FACC, ABVM, leads our team at Cardiovascular Institute of America in Tampa and Lutz, Florida, with superior expertise and experience.
We offer thorough examinations that include a diagnostic ultrasound to determine issues with your carotid arteries or any kind of conditions with your heart that can lead to stroke. Here’s what you need to know.
Carotid arteries explained
Different arteries have different destinations. Your carotid arteries branch off from your aorta near your heart and travel along both sides of your neck up to the front of your brain. They’re responsible for your body’s mobility, your speaking, and cognitive function.
When you run your fingers along your neck, the pulse of your heartbeat you’re feeling is from the flow of your carotid arteries.
Causes of carotid arteries narrowing
The onset of narrowing carotid arteries can happen for several reasons, including:
- Family history of CAD
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Irregular heartbeat
CAD looms as a larger threat as you age, especially if you’re overweight and live a sedentary lifestyle.
Signs to watch for
Because CAD doesn’t always show signs, it’s important to have regular check-ups with Dr. Velusamy, and especially so if you fall into one of the high-risk categories.
Your symptoms might include:
- Abnormal sounds or patterns in your heart
- A mini-stroke
- A regular stroke
When you come in to see us, we listen to your heart through a stethoscope to identify certain sounds that could indicate you have narrowed carotid arteries. We may also perform an ultrasound of your neck to get a visual confirmation.
If you suffer a mini-stroke, known clinically as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), it’s a warning sign that you have CAD.
Your symptoms can include blurry vision, numbness on one side of the body, drooling, dizziness, difficulty with forming words, and not being able to understand what people are saying to you.
A mini-stroke is a prompt wake-up call to get control of your health immediately so you can avoid life-threatening consequences. A full-blown stroke has the same symptoms as a mini-stroke, but with the latter, the blockage in your brain is temporary.
In both cases, you need to get help as quickly as possible, especially within the first four hours, to give you the best chance of a full recovery. Most people survive strokes, but suffer permanent brain damage.
Can I live a healthy life with carotid artery disease?
If you have CAD, Dr. Velusamy treats your condition with compassion and expertise. As a team, we can prescribe medication, educate you on healthy lifestyle changes, and depending on the severity of your condition, we can perform surgery.
Our goal is to help you live a long, healthy life. If you have questions or concerns about CAD, call our offices in Tampa or Lutz, Florida, today or book your appointment online. You can also send a message to Dr. Velusamy and the team here on our website.