Studies have shown that cigarette smoking is a crucial activity that contributes to strokes. According to American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association that promotes the education about the ways of preventing and treating stroke; that “nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarettes smoke damages the cardiovascular system that paves the way for stroke to happen.” In addition, “smoking harms almost every tissue and organ in the body, such as blood vessels and the heart.” Strokes definitely kill and make people forever incapable. One problem that can cause you your health and life is the Carotid Artery Disease. Hence, carotid artery surgery is needed to be cured and have a longer life.
Blood vessels is a very vital part of the human body. They sustain and facilitate the blood away from the heart, acts as an exchange that allocates nutrients to tissues of the body, and carries back blood to the heart. Problems blocking these seamless flows of the blood to enter in the brain, heart, or any important organ will create dangerous scenarios like stroke. We’ll look closely in further details on what are these things that we have to learn more, specifically Carotid Arteries.
What is a Carotid Artery?
You’ll notice two pumping pulses on your neck called the carotid pulse. It located on the right side and left side, which can be felt by pressing with fingertips. They are part of the carotid arteries. They beat because of the regular widening of the artery as blood flows through it. These are very important blood vessels. Their duty is to supply and facilitate a continuous blood supply to the neck, to the face, and to the brain. It keeps the brain hydrated, brings in hormones & neurotransmitter to function and be at constant temperature for brain health.
There are delegations and functions on the whole structure for carotid artery and these are described as:
- Internal Carotid Artery: the main function of this artery is to transport and facilitate blood to the brain.
- External Carotid Artery: the main function of this artery is to facilitate and allocate blood to the neck and the face.
In smaller details, they have layers of tissue which they operate the flow of blood. These are the Intima (innermost layer), the Media (middle layer), and the Adventitia (outer layer).
Conditions, very alarming!
Stroke is one deadly condition that is very scary. It is a sudden disruption of blood flow to the brain caused by blood clot in the carotid artery or fragments of plaque traveling to the brain resulting to strokes. These are very harmful situations to have. Just like stroke, there are others that we have to be aware of. Here are the other deadly condition that needs to be fixed by carotid artery surgery:
- Carotid Artery Stenosis: because of the cholesterol plaque buildup they narrow the carotid artery in which it slows down blood flow.
- Carotid Artery Vasculitis: because of infection it causes the carotid artery to be in an inflamed condition that present bad conditions like headache, jaw pain, and fever.
- Atherosclerosis: just like stenosis there is a buildup of cholesterol plaque which narrows the carotid artery and slows the blood flow which leads to stroke.
- Carotid Artery Aneurysm: an area in the carotid artery that is cracked and balloons as blood passes through the channel and some blood are stored in the cracked area which when it pops could result in severe bleeding or stroke.
The Carotid Artery Surgery
If there’s a block on the passage of blood going to the brain, it leads to a stroke. Surgery is then needed. The Carotid Artery Surgery has two procedures which are:
This is a procedure where the fatty plaque that blocks the blood vessels are removed from the carotid artery to improve the blood flow to the brain. It then reduces the chance of getting a stroke.
The surgery takes place in situations where there is a narrowing or a blockage in the carotid artery. A surgical cut will be done by the surgeon on the neck over the carotid artery. Then, a flexible tube will be placed on the artery that removes the plaque inside. After the cholesterol plaque is removed it will be closed with stitches. The blood will then resume its natural flow.
This is a procedure that uses balloon angioplasty and implantable steel screens called stents. Stents are retrieving device used to remove large clots, to open up the blocked blood vessel.
It starts with a surgical cut and places a flexible tube, or catheter, connecting to the artery. X-ray pictures, or fluoroscopy, are used to navigate the catheter for positioning. Once the tube is in place, a wire will be placed in through the catheter to reach the blockage. Another catheter with a very tiny balloon, with the stent, will be pushed over into the blockage and be inflated. This opens the artery allowing the blood to follow; the stent is left in place to keep the artery open and removes the balloon.
The surgery is likely to be used when the carotid endarterectomy would be dangerous for the patient. This might be due to factors like being too ill to do the endarterectomy surgery, the location of the narrowing carotid artery is hard to access, has a history of carotid surgery before, and in some special cases had radiation to the neck.
Healthy lifestyle changes
There is no preventing stroke, and atherosclerosis, from happening. But there are things that we can do to manage and reduce the risk factors of experiencing this deadly condition. Trusting the instructions of the doctor will help us cut these dangers by changing our lifestyle to a healthy routine. Eating healthy, managing stress, doing physically enriching activities like exercise, and quitting smoking will all help.
Medicines prescribed by the doctor to help us avoid these conditions help us too. Though we were able to completely change our lifestyle, we still need to control our cholesterol levels. That is why we need medication. By using medicines simultaneously with our healthy lifestyle activities we lower our blood cholesterol level. This then decreases the possibility of stroke. If these things didn’t work and there are still issues with the buildup of plaque therefore carotid artery surgery is needed to be cured and have a longer life.