Carotid Artery Awareness Month: Why Screening Matters

by | May 13, 2024 | Carotid Artery Disease, Vascular Disease

May is Carotid Artery Awareness Month, a crucial time to shine a spotlight on the importance of the carotid arteries and the vital role they play in our overall health. At Premier Vascular & Vein Center in Knoxville, TN, we recognize the significance of early detection and treatment of carotid artery disease, a common yet often preventable condition that can lead to severe health consequences, including strokes.

Carotid Artery

The carotid arteries are major blood vessels in the neck that supply blood to the brain, neck, and face. Carotid artery disease occurs when these arteries become narrowed or blocked by plaque—a condition known as atherosclerosis. This blockage can significantly reduce blood flow to the brain and potentially cause a stroke, one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.

Why Is Screening Important?

Screening for carotid artery disease is crucial because it often develops silently; many individuals do not exhibit any symptoms until a stroke occurs. Regular screening can help identify the disease at an early stage when interventions can be most effective. Identifying and treating carotid artery disease early can significantly reduce the risk of stroke.

Risk factors for carotid artery disease include age (over 65), high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, and a family history of atherosclerosis or cardiovascular disease. Individuals with these risk factors should consider regular screenings to detect any early signs of carotid artery disease.

What Does Screening Involve?

At Premier Vascular & Vein Center, screening for carotid artery disease involves simple, non-invasive procedures such as Carotid Ultrasound (Carotid Doppler). This technique uses sound waves to create detailed images of the carotid arteries and identify any blockages or abnormalities in blood flow. The procedure is painless and typically takes less than 30 minutes, making it a convenient option for most patients.

The Role of Lifestyle Changes and Treatment

If a screening test indicates the presence of carotid artery disease, there are several steps that can be taken to manage the condition. Depending on the severity, treatment options may range from lifestyle modifications to medical management or even surgery.

Lifestyle changes are the first line of defense and include eating a heart-healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and engaging in regular exercise. These changes can help slow the progression of the disease and reduce the risk of complications.

In more severe cases, medical treatment such as medications to thin the blood or lower cholesterol may be necessary. In cases where significant blockage is detected, surgical interventions such as carotid endarterectomy or carotid artery stenting may be recommended to restore proper blood flow to the brain.

Join Us in Raising Awareness

During Carotid Artery Awareness Month, we encourage everyone, especially those with risk factors, to talk with your physician about getting screened and to take proactive steps toward maintaining vascular health. Early detection and treatment are key to preventing strokes and ensuring a healthy, active life.

At Premier Vascular & Vein Center, we are committed to providing comprehensive vascular care and education to our community in Knoxville, TN. To learn more about carotid artery disease screening and schedule an appointment with one of our vascular specialists,  call (865) 588-8229 or book an appointment online here. Remember, when it comes to stroke prevention, knowledge, and action go hand in hand.