Patients often think of their arteries in terms of heart health, but your brain also needs a regular supply of blood and oxygen to function. If you are worried about your risk of stroke, a neurosurgeon may be able to remove dangerous plaque building inside your carotid arteries. Speak to your physician and read on to learn more about your surgical options.
Exploring the Role of the Carotid Artery
Your carotid arteries are the main supply of blood to fuel your brain and facial organs. They carry the vital oxygen needed to sustain brain cells, making them one of the most critical parts of your body. The carotid splits near the bottom of your throat and travels up each side of the neck. When one or both of those arteries grows clogged with plaque, it causes a stroke and, potentially, permanent brain damage.
Clearing a Clogged Carotid Artery
Because most strokes have lasting consequences for their victims, it is essential to catch a carotid blockage before it deprives your brain of oxygen. The most popular initial treatment is surgical, a procedure known as a carotid endarterectomy or CEA. During the process, the artery is cut open and its plaque physically removed. CEA surgeries are typically performed by a neurosurgeon due to their sensitive interactions with the brain.
Monitoring Your Results
Despite the best efforts of you and your surgeon, recurring blockages, or restenosis, do sometimes occur. The underlying cause of the first blockage may lead to further artery hardening and plaque buildup. One study from 2007 found a restenosis rate of about 2 percent within a year of a carotid endarterectomy. Restenosis is often asymptomatic, meaning you will need regular checkups to catch it.
Dealing With a Second Blockage
If later tests indicate a second blockage forming in your carotids, your physician is likely to recommend a less invasive procedure like carotid stenting. A stent is a mesh tube inserted into the artery to hold it open, ensuring regular blood flow. Because endovascular techniques like this do not require cutting the artery open, there are fewer chances for complications than a second CAE surgery.
Strokes are a real danger for anyone at risk of cardiovascular disease. Those that are not fatal will still disrupt your life for months, years, or even permanently. Don't wait for an emergency scenario to protect your body from itself. Speak to your doctor today to check the state of your arteries and take steps to reduce your risk of stroke.
For more information, contact local professionals or visit sites like http://www.billingsclinic.com.