House Call: Carotid Artery Disease – Signs, Symptoms & Treatment
Carotid artery disease, also known as carotid artery stenosis, occurs when the carotid arteries, which provide the main blood supply to the brain, become narrowed or blocked.
Individuals with carotid artery disease are at significantly higher risk of stroke. Since North Carolina is located in the area of the southeastern U.S. known as the ‘Stroke Belt’, it is especially important for individuals throughout the community to become educated about carotid artery disease, and other risk factors and symptoms of stroke.
Most often, carotid artery disease is not discovered in patients until after they have suffered a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). Therefore, it is important for individuals to know the main risk factors associated with the disease, which include genetics, history of smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
In the past, other than lifestyle modifications and certain medications, the main method of treating severe carotid artery blockages was through a surgical procedure known as carotid endarterectomy. Now, many studies have been done that support the equal effectiveness of treating carotid artery disease with carotid angioplasty and stenting, which is a less invasive procedure with quicker recovery times.
Cone Health Heart and Vascular Center is actively involved in clinical trials that continue to study the effectiveness of this form of treatment for patients who are at high risk, as well as standard risk for surgery.
Dr. Jonathan Berry is a cardiologist at Southeastern Heart and Vascular Center and the cardiovascular section chief and medical director of the peripheral vascular lab at Cone Health. Dr. Berry is a 1983 graduate of University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, completing his residency in internal medicine at Duke University Medical Center. He specializes in interventional cardiology and peripheral vascular disease, completing fellowships at both Duke University Medical Center and University of Michigan Hospitals. Dr. Berry also serves as a clinical professor at UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine.