Get To Know Your Carotid Arteries

While we here at Vascular Specialists believe every vein and artery in your body is important, we know that the health of your carotid arteries play a vital part in avoiding life-altering, or life-threatening, stroke.

Where are my carotid arteries?

Place your fingertips on each side of your neck, under your jawline, and feel for the pulse.

Why are carotid arteries so important?

Your carotid arteries run to the front page of your brain, supplying oxygen to those parts that control speech, thought, personality and sensory and motor functions. Damage to these arteries means damage to that part of your brain and these functions – everything that makes you the person you are.

What can happen to these arteries?

Being diagnosed with atherosclerotic disease, carotid artery stenosis, or carotid artery disease, means the space in these arteries is narrowing, getting blocked with cholesterol and plaque. A stroke occurs when the artery becomes too narrow or ruptures, plaque breaks off or a blood clot forms, blocking the artery.

How do I know if I’m developing carotid artery disease?

Usually, carotid artery disease has no symptoms, until you experience a transient ischemic attack or a stroke – and then it could be too late.

However, if the risk factors below apply to you, discuss a screening with your primary care physician or with Dr. Tanquilut or Dr. Pradhan.

What are those risk factors?

Family history of carotid artery disease OR coronary artery disease
High blood pressure or hypertension
High cholesterol

Lack of physical activity and obesity are also risk factors, along with advancing age.

What kind of screening should I expect?

Your physician will first listen to your carotid arteries with a stethoscope, on the alert for a bruit, an abnormal sound indicating agitated or irregular blood flow. If carotid artery disease is suspected from this simple test, Dr. Tanquilut or Dr. Pradhan may order an ultrasound, CT or angiogram to confirm the diagnosis and determine the extend of your disease.

So what’s my first step if I have any of these risk factors?

Call our offices at 815-824-4406 to make an appointment. Dr. Tanquilut and Dr. Pradhan can listen to your arteries and order any additional necessary tests immediately. Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the United States, and doing everything you can to prevent it is vital to your health.

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