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What Are the Symptoms and Tests of Carotid Artery Blockage?

Carotid artery blockages can put you at risk of a stroke, so it’s important to get treatment if you are affected. How can you tell if you are at risk and what tests will your doctor use to diagnose this condition?

Tests of Carotid Artery Blockage

Could You Have a Carotid Artery Blockage?

A blockage in your carotid artery could be very serious, so it is important to be aware of the symptoms and to see a doctor if you think you might be affected. Blockages in the carotid arteries that supply the brain are usually caused by a build-up of fatty material or plaque. You are more likely to be affected if you are overweight, a smoker, or if you have high cholesterol.

You should see a doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms. you experience severe symptoms or think you might be having a stroke then you should seek urgent medical care right away.

Symptoms of Carotid Artery Blockage

Carotid artery disease develops gradually, and it won’t cause any noticeable symptoms until the narrowing of the artery begins to affect the blood supply. When this happens, you may experience a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke.

Signs of a TIA include sudden:

  • Weakness or numbness in your face or limbs, usually on one side
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding what others are saying
  • Eyesight problems in one or both eyes
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Severe headache

The symptoms of a TIA usually pass quickly, but they should never be ignored. A mini-stroke is a warning that a major stroke could be on the way, so it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible.

How Are Carotid Artery Blockages Diagnosed?

It is important to find out if you have a carotid artery blockage as you could be at risk of a stroke if the blood flow to your brain is interrupted. If your doctor thinks that you might have a blocked carotid artery, then you may have some or all of the following tests.

  • Listening to the carotid arteries with a stethoscope to check the blood flow.
  • Carotid Doppler scan, an ultrasound to measure blood flow through the arteries.
  • Angiography, an X-ray, MRI or CT scan performed after a special dye has been injected into your blood vessels. The scan will show the dye moving through the carotid arteries so that any blockages or narrowed sections can be spotted.

Although the symptoms of a carotid artery blockage are often mild and easy to miss, it is important to be aware of them and to seek help if you notice anything. If the artery gets narrower or is blocked completely, the blood supply to your brain could be interrupted. The brain cells may run out of oxygen and die, which could cause a stroke. Finding out that you have a carotid artery blockage could save your life by ensuring that you get medication to prevent a stroke or surgery to improve the blood supply to your brain.

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