Atherosclerosis of the carotid arteries
- What is carotid atherosclerosis?
- Disease symptoms
- Causes of the disease
- Treatment of atherosclerosis of the carotid arteries
What is carotid atherosclerosis?
The carotid arteries are the vessels that feed the organs of the neck and head, including the brain. They are branches of the aorta. Normally, their walls are smooth, without any formations that could disrupt normal blood flow.
The disease, which is characterized by the deposition of plaque in the lumen of the carotid arteries, is called atherosclerosis. These formations are composed of cholesterol, calcium, lipids, and connective fibers.
According to statistics, this pathology is observed in most cases in people of advanced age.
As a rule, the carotid arteries undergo calcification deposits when this process has long been formed in other large vessels. As the plaques grow, the normal blood supply to the brain is disrupted, which leads to the development of a number of serious diseases. Often this pathological process becomes the cause of a stroke in a patient.
If plaque breaks off from the wall of the carotid artery, it enters the bloodstream and is transported to smaller vessels, which becomes the cause of their blockage and also leads to the development of a stroke.
Symptoms of carotid atherosclerosis
In the initial stages, atherosclerosis proceeds without the manifestation of vivid symptoms. Often, the diagnosis of this disease occurs when the stroke is an already existing fact. However, there are a number of signs, paying attention to which, you will be able to notice the pathology in time and carry out drug therapy.
At an early stage, atherosclerosis is characterized by periodic transient ischemic attacks. Their duration can be different: from several minutes to 1 hour. At this time, the patient may feel tingling or itching in one half of the body, often such a symptom occurs in the upper or lower extremities. There is also a feeling of numbness, weakness, non-separating speech, sometimes blindness of one eye is noted and control over the limb is lost.
In some cases, manifestations of a transient attack can last up to 24 hours. Even with a single occurrence of such a condition, you should contact a specialist for diagnostics. Only in this way can the disease be detected in time and treated in order to prevent the development of more serious pathologies.
Note that in rare cases, similar symptoms can characterize the development of a stroke. So do not hesitate to contact a medical facility.
Causes of the disease
The occurrence of atherosclerotic calcifications in the carotid arteries occurs for the same reasons as in other vessels.
- Bad habits: drinking alcohol, smoking.
- Hypertonic disease.
- Endocrine pathologies.
- Lipid metabolism disorders.
- Wrong diet.
- Frequent stressful tensions.
- Sedentary lifestyle.
- Postponed infections.
- Decreased immunity.
Only in rare cases does the disease develop against the background of an aneurysm of the carotid arteries or fibromuscular dysplasia.
To establish this diagnosis, it is necessary to conduct a thorough examination of the patient. They start with clarifying complaints and collecting anamnestic data. Risk factors must be taken into account. After that, go directly to the inspection.
The doctor conducts auscultation of the carotid arteries, in which vortex flows can be heard. This symptom occurs when the vascular lumen narrows, it is characteristic of atherosclerosis. Blood pressure is also measured.
Necessarily, if atherosclerosis is suspected, an ultrasound Doppler study is prescribed. It allows you to determine the structure of blood vessels and the nature of blood flow in them. This is an absolutely painless method with which it is possible to accurately establish a diagnosis.
If the above diagnostic methods leave the doctor in doubt, the following studies are prescribed:
CT. It makes it possible to determine the structure of the carotid arteries after the introduction of a contrast agent and their irradiation with X-rays.
MRI. Allows you to see blood flow and vessel structure.
Angiography. Requires the mandatory use of a radiopaque substance. With its introduction, there is a risk of plaque detachment, which can lead to the development of stroke and ischemia. In this regard, this method is used extremely rarely.
Treatment of atherosclerosis of the carotid arteries
You need to start treatment with the normalization of your lifestyle. First of all, it is necessary to give up bad habits, if possible, increase physical activity.
Therapy of carotid atherosclerosis requires nutritional adjustments. The Mediterranean diet is recommended, which reduces the risk of complications (heart attack, stroke) by more than 50%.
On the subject: 7 folk remedies for atherosclerosis with proven effectiveness
From medications, drugs are used that lower the level of cholesterol concentration in the blood: statins and fibrates, and in addition to them omega-3.
From modern means for lowering cholesterol, it is possible to use Ezetimibe-SZ and Kumaba, which inhibit the activity of a specific carrier protein, without which food cholesterol cannot be absorbed.
To prevent the formation of blood clots, and as a consequence of their complications - heart attack or stroke, anticoagulants are prescribed.
Read more: Drugs for the treatment of atherosclerosis
In addition, there are herbal remedies for atherosclerosis that have been proven to be effective. These include: Inflaminate, Nattokinase, Revight Garlic Pearls, Ravisol - more about them is described here
With advanced forms of the disease, the question of conducting surgical treatment is raised:
Carotid endarterectomy. It is performed under local or general anesthesia. After a small incision, plaque is removed, which narrows the artery and disrupts blood flow.
Stenting and balloon angioplasty. This is a new method. It is performed under local anesthesia. They are used when the previous method of treatment is contraindicated.
Atherosclerosis of the carotid arteries manifests itself last, when a similar process has already affected other large vessels. Therefore, it is worthwhile to treat this pathology in time in order to prevent its spread to other arteries.
The author of the article: Volkov Dmitry Sergeevich | c. m. n. surgeon, phlebologist
Education: Moscow State University of Medicine and Dentistry (1996). In 2003 he received a diploma from the Educational and Scientific Medical Center of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation.