Carotid arteries are the two large arteries on each side of your neck that supply oxygen-rich blood to your brain. Plaque build-up in these arteries can result in carotid artery disease, which restricts blood flow to the brain and puts you at a higher risk of stroke. The plaque is formed by substances like cholesterol and calcium, which can eventually lead to the narrowing and hardening of the vessel (atherosclerosis). Clots can form on this plaque, and if a clot or piece of plaque breaks free and reaches the brain, this can result in stroke.

Carotid artery disease often does not produce symptoms and may only be noticed when a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA; also known as ministroke) occurs. Though more conservative treatments like lifestyle changes and medications may be used to treat mild blockage of the carotid arteries, TIA and stroke indicate serious blockage and may necessitate surgery.

CAROTID ENDARTERECTOMY - is used to surgically remove the plaque and inner lining of the affected area of the artery. A patch may also be put in place to widen the artery.

CAROTID ANGIOPLASTY and STENTING - can be used to reduce blockage and strengthen the arteries. During this procedure, a small balloon is inserted at the area of the clog and inflated to flatten the plaque and open up the artery. Then, a cylindrical piece of wire mesh known as a stent is put in place to strengthen the artery and prevent it from constricting.

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