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OF THE MEDICAL REPORT
Nishit Choksi, MD
St. Joseph Mercy Oakland
THE FACTS ABOUT Carotid Artery Disease
Carotid artery disease is a build up of fat and cholesterol in one
or both of the two major arteries that supply blood and oxygen
from the heart to the brain. This build up of deposits within the
arteries causes a decrease in blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
Ultimately, this condition will lead to a stroke.
Podcast Posted: 05/09/2008
Several risk factors are associated with coronary ar tery
disease, including: family history of ar teriosclerosis (plaque
build-up), diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, age, genetics
and cigarette smoking.
“By the time you experience signs and symptoms of carotid
artery disease you may have already suffered a stroke” warns
Nishit Choksi, MD and SJMO Cardiologist Interventionalist. He
adds, “In fact, the stroke itself may be the first and only sign that
you have carotid artery disease.”
Symptoms of stroke include:
• Sudden numbness or weakness, or paralysis of face, arm or leg
– usually on one side of the body
• Sudden loss of speech, or trouble talking or understanding speech
• Sudden blurred, double or decreased vision
• Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or loss of coordination
• Sudden difficulty swallowing
• Sudden confusion, or problems with memory, spatial orientation
• Sudden, severe headache or an unusual headache, which may
be accompanied by a stiff neck, facial pain, pain between the
eyes, vomiting or altered consciousness.
If you or someone you know experiences any of the above
symptoms - call 911 immediately. Immediate treatment can save
your life or increase your chance of full recovery.
Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to slowing down the
progression of carotid artery disease.
Lifestyle modifications are the first lines of defense to combating
carotid ar tery disease. Quitting smoking, exercising regularly,
controlling blood pressure and diabetes and making regular
checkups are great examples of lifestyle changes that can slow
down carotid artery disease. In addition, you should also eat
foods low in saturated fats and cholesterol.
Medications such as blood thinners (aspirin) and clot reducing
agents may be used to assist with improving the health status of
a patient with the disease.
Procedures such as atherosclerectomy, carotid stenting and
carotid endarterectomy are usually recommended for more
advanced cases of carotid artery disease. These procedures are
only used when lifestyle choices and medications are not enough
to control advanced stages of the disease. If the carotid artery has
severe narrowing or blockage, your physician may recommend a
• Atherosclerectomy is a procedural treatment that opens
the ar tery and increases blood flow to the brain preventing
• Carotid stenting which involves placement of a small, wire mesh
tubing inside the carotid artery at the site of the blockage to
provide additional support to keep the artery open.
• Carotid endarterectomy is a standard surgical procedure
involving an incision directly into the neck and carotid artery to
remove plaque or the more diseased portions of the artery.
The medical team at St. Joe’s Heart Institute opens blocked
arteries and restores blood flow faster than the national standard
Please contact the SJMO physician referral line at 800.372.6094
to find an SJMO physician near you.