What is Carotid Artery Disease?

Carotid artery disease is a serious condition, which if left untreated can cause strokes or transient ischemic attacks (also known as “mini-strokes”). More than 800,000 Americans experience a stroke each year, and many are the result of carotid artery disease.

The condition occurs when a substance called plaque (calcium deposits, cholesterol and other debris) builds up in the carotid arteries, which run along each side of the neck and carry oxygen-rich blood to the brain. When one of the arteries becomes blocked, blood flow to the brain is interrupted and a stroke or stroke-like event can occur.

Dr. Russell Lam, one of Dallas’ leading vascular surgeons recently selected for inclusion on the 2015 Texas Super Doctors™ list, specializes in reducing patients’ stroke risk by offering advanced treatments for carotid artery disease in Dallas.

Am I at Risk?

Identifying and treating the condition early is essential to preventing a life-threatening stroke; however, there often are few signs or symptoms of carotid artery disease before it becomes severe and begins to limit blood flow to the brain. Therefore, patients with risk factors for carotid artery disease should have regular screening for the condition.

  • Risk factors for carotid artery disease include:
  • Older age
  • Diabetes
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • A family history of atherosclerosis
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  •  
    Call 9-1-1 if you or a loved one experience any stroke symptoms, including:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness of the arm, leg or face on one side of the body
  • Loss of vision in one eye
  • Difficulty talking or slurred speech
  •  

    Treating Carotid Artery Disease

    If Dr. Lam suspects a patient has carotid artery disease following a physical exam, then additional tests will be conducted to confirm the diagnosis and determine the severity. Typically, these tests include various methods of imaging, such as ultrasound or angiography.

    In mild cases, Dr. Lam may suggest lifestyle changes, such as smoking cessation or diet changes, to prevent the progression of the disease. In moderate cases, Dr. Lam may prescribe medications in addition to lifestyle changes to help treat the disease, including those that address the risk factors listed above. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to clear the blockage and reduce the risk of stroke. Dr. Lam offers two procedures in Dallas to treat carotid artery disease: carotid endarterectomy and endovascular repair.

    Carotid endarterectomy is the treatment most recommended by Dr. Lam when a patient is presenting severe carotid artery disease – with or without symptoms of impending stroke. During the procedure, the blockage in the carotid artery is removed via an incision in the neck. This procedure has a high success rate and typically only requires a one-night hospital stay.

    Endovascular repair is recommended for patients whom Dr. Lam considers a high risk for surgery, have had previous neck surgery or have undergone radiation therapy. It is a minimally-invasive procedure where a catheter is inserted in the femoral artery to compress the blockage and place a stent to strengthen the artery.

    To discuss treatment options for carotid artery disease, schedule a consultation with Dr. Lam in Dallas by calling 214-345-4160 or click here to request an appointment online.

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