Carotid Artery Problems: Stroke
The carotid arteries are large blood vessels that carry blood to the brain. When these arteries are healthy, the brain gets all the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function well. If the carotid arteries are damaged, however, it can greatly increase your chances of stroke. This is a sudden loss of brain function caused by a lack of blood flow.
How Artery Damage Can Lead to Stroke
In a healthy carotid artery, the inside of the artery wall is smooth and open. But health problems such as high blood pressure can damage the artery wall and make it rough. This allows plaque (fatty deposits) to build up in the artery wall. Blood clots may also form on the plaque. If pieces of plaque or blood clot (called emboli) break off, they can flow in the blood until they get stuck in a small blood vessel in the brain. This blocks blood flow to a portion of the brain, causing a stroke.
Symptoms of Stroke
Below are common symptoms of stroke. Call 911 right away if you have any of these symptoms! Prompt treatment for a stroke is vital. The longer you wait to get medical help, the more damage a stroke can do.
Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on 1 side of the body
Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or trouble understanding
Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination
Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack)
A TIA is a “ministroke.” It’s a serious warning sign of a larger stroke. TIAs occur when an artery supplying the brain is temporarily blocked. This blockage will cause symptoms identical to those that happen with stroke. The only difference is that they last a short period of time, from a few seconds to a few hours. NEVER ignore any stroke symptoms. Call 911 right away!