Carotid Artery Disease


You are more likely to develop carotid artery disease as you age. This condition occurs when the major arteries in your neck become narrowed or blocked. Carotid arteries extend from the aorta in your chest to the brain, supplying your brain with blood. When these normally smooth arteries suffer a buildup of plaque, the arteries can narrow or stiffen (atherosclerosis) 

If soft plaque deposits crack or form irregular areas inside the artery, your body may respond by forming a large blood clot in your carotid artery or one of its branches. This may slow or stop the flow of blood and oxygen to your brain and could cause a stroke. More commonly, a clot from the plaque breaks off, travelling through the bloodstream and blocks a small artery in the brain, causing a stroke.

Only 1% of adults, age 50 to 59, have significantly narrowed carotid arteries, but 10% of adults, age 80 to 89, have this problem.

The first symptom of carotid artery disease may be an actual stroke. The early warning symptoms of a stroke are TIAs (Transient Ischemic Attacks) that may last from a few minutes to an hour. While TIA symptoms may go away within 24 hours, they should be reported to your physician immediately. 

  • Feeling weakness, numbness, or a tingling sensation on one side of your body, such as in an arm or a leg

  • Being unable to control the movement of an arm or a leg

  • Losing vision in one eye (sensation often described as a window shade coming down)

  • Being unable to speak clearly

If these symptoms last longer than an hour or don’t resolve with 24 hours, a stroke has probably occurred. Contact your physician immediately. 

Atherosclerosis (hardening of the veins) is most often the main cause of carotid artery disease. 

To assist in prevention, control factors that increase your chances of developing carotid artery disease – diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. 

A family history of atherosclerosis or diabetes can also increase chances of developing carotid artery disease. In rare cases, carotid aneurysm disease and fibromuscular dysplasia can also result in this condition.

  • Angiography (X-rays of an artery)

  • Chest or Neck X-rays

  • CT or CAT Scan

  • Duplex Ultrasound

  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)

  • Segmental blood pressure readings along the hands, fingers, and arms

If carotid artery disease is suspected, a painless carotid duplex ultrasound will be performed. This test indicates and the rate of blood flow carotid arteries and is  sufficient in most cases. Additional test may be indicated and could include: 

  • Angioplasty Stenting – Angioplasty may be recommended to restore circulation in your arms. If needed, a tiny stent (mesh-metal tube) may also be inserted to ensure the narrowed area remains open. 

  • Endarterectomy/Bypass For more extensive blockages, a surgical endarterectomy is performed to remove plaque from the inner lining of the diseased artery. If a bypass is required, a detour would be created around the blocked artery with a synthetic tube or a vein from your body.

  • Injection An anesthetic injection will block certain hand nerves. If symptoms are relieved, a cervical sympathectomy by chemical injection or surgery, may be recommended.

  • Lifestyle – Help manage risk by reaching/maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, controlling blood cholesterol and fat levels, and quit smoking.

  • Medications – Medication may be prescribed to treat a high blood pressure condition.

You can depend on the expert team of medical professionals at Vascular Tyler to help you determine your best treatment options, based on your test results.

For questions or to schedule an appointment, contact us at 903.533.8702.


The Patient Experience

Dr. Robbins looked at my imaging and made an appointment that same day for me to come in. At Vascular Tyler, it’s just like a family environment every time I come in here. If I have to go the doctor’s (office), this is where I want to go.
L. Cunningham, Patient
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B. Finch, Patient
I had excruciating pain and was told I needed a knee replacement. But Dr. Robbins said I just need vascular surgery. They gave me relief from my pain, and they’re kind and interested in you as a patient and a person. This is the place to come.
M. Finch, Patient

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