Three Methods Of Managing Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid artery disease occurs when there is narrowing of the major blood vessels leading to the brain. The development of carotid artery disease can significantly increase your risk of a major stroke. Once the problem is identified, there are ways to manage the condition and reduce complications.

Take A Conservative Approach

If carotid artery disease is detected in the earlier stages, when less than half the artery is blocked, your doctor may opt to take a conservative approach to manage the condition. Many people who develop carotid artery disease have significant underlying risk factors that can be controlled with lifestyle changes and medical interventions. Some common risk factors include smoking and obesity.

If you smoke, working with your doctor to develop a smoking cessation program that fits your needs can help. With many medications and nicotine replacement products on the market, you do not have to rely on willpower alone to quit.

Making small changes in your lifestyle can help you shed excess weight and manage chronic diseases. Integrating small amounts of exercise, reducing simple carbohydrates in your diet, and minimizing saturated and trans fats can help your waistline and lessen the chances of getting or exacerbating your current chronic diseases, such as hypertension and diabetes.

Integrate Medications

Since most narrowing of the carotid artery is attributed to development of plaques, reducing your cholesterol levels may help. In addition to dietary and exercise changes, your doctor may want you to start cholesterol lowering drugs, especially if you have several chronic diseases and/or have a family history of cardiovascular disease.

Statins are cholesterol-lowering drugs that can help reduce the amount of cholesterol that travels through the blood stream and leads to narrowing of blood vessels. Other medications your doctor may use are anticoagulants. This can include taking a small dose of aspirin each day or prescription anticoagulants. These medications can prevent blood clots and make it easier for blood to flow through a narrower carotid artery.

Consider Surgery

If less invasive options have not halted the progression of carotid artery disease or the problem was discovered when most of the artery was obstructed, surgery is often warranted. One type of procedure is used to remove the build-up or other obstruction from the artery. A minimally-invasive alternative may be used if your doctors feel like an open surgery would be risky.

An obstruction in the carotid artery can be held open with a stent. For this procedure, a catheter is threaded into the artery from the groin. The procedure is done with the help of real-time imaging to help guide the catheter and find the proper placement of the stent.

Allowing carotid artery disease to go untreated places you at high risk for a major stroke. When the problem is detected early, there are numerous treatment options available to minimize your risk of a life-threatening emergency. 

For more information, contact local professionals like Summit View Clinic.