You have two carotid arteries on each side of your neck. They supply blood to your brain and your eyes. If there is any kind of blockage and blood flow is reduced, this is a serious condition which can lead to a stroke or heart attack. Signs can be hard to spot, so pay attention to these 10 signs of carotid artery blockage.
Carotid Artery Disease
Carotid artery disease happens when fatty deposits or plaque begin to clog these essential arteries. Any clog increases the possibility of a stroke. As this continues, narrowing of the artery progresses, limiting the amount of oxygenated blood reaching the brain cells. This disease progresses very slowly making obvious signs difficult to diagnose.
First Obvious Sign of Carotid Artery Blockage
Unfortunately the first sign that your carotid arteries are blocked is a mini-stroke, known medically as a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). It is a temporary shortage of blood flow to the brain, and although it typically lasts only a short time, the patient is then at a high risk for another more serious type of stroke. Sometimes patients can have a series of mini-strokes.
Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the US. Once you have suffered a mini-stroke, it is time to pay particular attention to other kinds of signs.
Less Obvious Preliminary Signs
There are many other signs of carotid artery disease which we will list, but note that they can be caused by many other medical issues.
- Unexplained fatigue
- Bulging veins in the neck
- Increased heart rate
- Chest pain
- Feeling light headed
- Poor balance and lack of coordination
- Blurred vision
If you have some combination of these signs or symptoms, ask a cardiologist at New Jersey Cardiology Associates to listen to your carotid arteries looking for an abnormal sound called a bruit. It will sound like turbulent blood flow and may signify a problem.
Who Is Most at Risk?
Your age, especially older men, a family history, high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, obesity, trauma to the neck, and smoking all put you at a higher risk for developing carotid artery disease and having a stroke.
If blood flow is disrupted for more than 3 to 6 hours from a stroke, the damage is usually permanent.
Don’t hesitate if you or someone you know has symptoms of a stroke—loss of or blurred vision, weakness on one side of the body, difficulty walking, trouble speaking, confusion, and severe headache. Immediately seek professional care at an emergency room.
Contact New Jersey Cardiology Associates for an evaluation if you are concerned about carotid artery blockage. Our cardiologists have extensive experience accurately diagnosing carotid artery blockage. Call your preferred location directly or request an appointment through our secure online form. We have cardiology clinics in Belleville, West Orange, Clifton, and Toms River.