When hardening of the arteries causes a build-up of plaque, a vascular surgeon can first perform angioplasty followed by carotid artery stenting to insert a slender, metal-mesh tube, or stent, to expand the carotid artery to increase blood flow in areas being blocked by plaque. If untreated, enough plaque may build up to reduce blood flow or cause blood clots or pieces of the plaque to break loose and block arteries in the brain.
Carotid artery disease is a serious condition which can cause stroke or arterial embolism, in which a small piece of plaque or a blood clot breaks loose from where it formed and can block another artery further downstream. Clots that block a tiny artery in the brain can cause temporary neurological symptoms, or transient ischemic attacks, also referred to as “mini-strokes.”
For more information on the diagnosis, treatment and procedures regarding vascular disease, visit www.vascularweb.org.