This surgery involves the surgical removal of plaque from the inner wall of the carotid artery.
The carotid arteries are the main arteries that carry blood from the base of the neck to the brain. When plaque builds up on the inner wall of one of the carotid arteries it can decrease, or even stop, the flow of blood to the brain. This can result in a transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as “mini-stroke,” or full-blown stroke.
A carotid endarterectomy involves the surgical removal of plaque from the inner wall of the carotid artery. The artery is accessed by making an incision on the affected side of the neck.
Some of the risk factors for developing a blockage of your carotid artery include:
If your lifestyle increases your risk of carotid artery disease, your doctor may make recommendations to decrease your risk. Some of the most frequently recommended lifestyle changes include:
Your healthcare provide may also recommend a cholesterol lowering medication called a “statin”.
If you have atherosclerosis of the carotid arteries, you may have atherosclerosis in arteries in another part of your body.
Many factors will be considered before your healthcare provider recommends a carotid endarterectomy. These include:
The symptoms of a stroke and TIA are similar. However, they do vary in severity and whether or not they are temporary (TIA) or permanent (stroke). The symptoms can include:
To help people remember the signs and symptoms of a stroke, many organizations use the acronym FAST.> Face – does one side of the face droop when smiling?> Arms – does one arm drift downwards when both are held up?> Speech – does one's speech seem slurred or different?> Time – time is critical if someone has these symptoms.Time is critical when the blood flow to the brain has been decreased. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms of a stroke.
Your healthcare provider may recommend different tests to determine your diagnosis and verify the need for surgery. These tests include:
If your healthcare provider recommends a carotid endarterectomy, prior to surgery tell him or her about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). Ask about specific instructions you should follow before surgery. These may include:
If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking, as it can interfere with your recovery
During your surgery, you will receive anesthesia to keep you comfortable and pain free.
You will likely spend a day or two in the hospital after surgery. You may need pain medication and help at home while you recover.
Contact your healthcare provider if you are having symptoms of carotid artery disease. Be prepared to discuss your symptoms and how long you have had them. Remember, Time is critical when the blood flow to the brain has been decreased. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms of a stroke.
Ask your healthcare provider the following questions.
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