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What Is Carotid Artery Screening?

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What Is Carotid Artery Disease? 

Carotid artery disease—also referred to as carotid stenosis—specifically affects the main blood vessels in the neck known as carotid arteries. These arteries are significant since they are responsible for sending blood to the brain and the face. Given the important function of these arteries, the narrowing of the arteries due to the buildup of plaque can cause serious problems, especially stroke and loss of feeling in certain parts of the body. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, calcium, and other cellular substances that clog arteries, restricting blood flow to the brain. For a doctor to develop a treatment plan for removing plaque and preventing a stroke, they will need to see results from a carotid artery screening. 

Why Get Preventive Health Screening? 

Carotid artery disease, a form of atherosclerosis, may be a sign that you have plaque buildup in other arteries in your body as well. Carotid artery disease is a major risk factor for stroke. Plaque can dislodge and travel to the brain or block blood flow. A stoke is a medical emergency that, because of loss of blood supply, causes brain cells to start to die within minutes. Preventive health screening can track your plaque and detect other potential threats before they occur, allowing you to act fast to reverse them.  Advanced Body Scan offers several types of scans that allow you to take control of your health with early detection measures—whether you have symptoms or if you are at risk. If you are over 50, you likely fall into the latter category.  See the bigger picture with a Couples Heart and Lung Scan Special

Carotid Artery Disease Symptoms 

Symptoms of carotid artery disease include a transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke) which could result in: 

  • A sudden (severe) headache 
  • Loss of balance 
  • Inability to move a limb 
  • Sudden vision loss 
  • Trouble understanding speech 

What Causes Carotid Artery Disease? 

What Causes Plaque Buildup in the Carotid Artery? 

Plaque buildup in the arteries is a natural part of aging. However, it can be and often is hastened by poor diet and other lifestyle risk factors. The buildup of plaque in adults increases with age. Between the ages of 50 and 59, about 1 percent of adults have major plaque buildup in their carotid arteries. By the ages of 80–89, 10 percent of adults have considerable plaque buildup. Men are at higher risk before the age of 75, while women face the greatest risk after age 75. Carotid artery screening allows you to track your plaque  

Manageable Carotid Artery Disease Risk Factors 

The following are risk factors that can be managed with lifestyle changes and/or medication: 

  • Smoking 
  • High blood pressure 
  • High “bad” cholesterol level 
  • Diabetes 
  • Obesity 
  • Physical inactivity 

Talk with your physician or care team about the best way for you to manage these risk factors. 

Risk Factors  You Can’t Control   

  • Age 
  • Heredity 

Unfortunately, some strokes are entirely asymptomatic so screening and early detection is the key to prevention. 

The difference Between Peripheral and Carotid Artery Diseases 

Peripheral and Carotid Artery Diseases are both generally caused by the same underlying problem. This cause is known as atherosclerosis, which is a narrowing of the arteries due to plaque build up along the artery walls. When you are diagnosed with or suspect either of these diseases, it’s important to seek medical help as soon as possible. Both peripheral and carotid artery disease could lead to dangerous cardiovascular events, such as stroke. The difference is in location. While PAD affects arteries in the legs, arms, stomach, and sometimes head, carotid artery disease affects the two main arteries on either side of your neck. These carry blood and, subsequently, oxygen to your brain. To learn more about it, read our article on peripheral artery disease.  

When to Get a Scan for Carotid Artery Disease 

With the latest in vascular ultrasound technology, Advanced Body Scan offers Peripheral Artery Disease and Carotid Artery Disease Screening to locate any restricted areas or blockages. Our ultrasound screening is non-invasive, extremely safe, and gives an accurate picture of soft tissue that does not show up on X-rays.  

To schedule your scan or ask questions, you can visit this page to learn more or contact us through email or by phone according to your location.  

We look forward to helping you take control of your health with early detection! 

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