Carotid Artery Stroke Treatments

Neurologists may employ carotid artery stroke treatments to dissolve dangerous clots, widen arteries, or remove plaque to improve blood flow. Nearly 700,000 people suffer attacks annually in the United States. A stroke occurs when the carotid arteries, which run the length of the base of the neck to the brain, are clogged due to a blood clot or plaque, which narrow the openings and restrict the flow of blood. Strokes occur as a result of a lack of blood to the brain or blood clots. Immediate symptoms may include slurred speech, impaired vision and motor skills, weakness on one side of the body, or a “lazy” tongue. Doctors recommend emergency carotid artery stroke treatments within the first three hours of detecting symptoms, or patients may suffer hemorrhages of the brain or become paralyzed or disabled. Certain portions of the brain control motor functions, speech, vision, and sensation; and damage to sensitive nerves can be permanent without emergency medical intervention. “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;” (Hebrews 3:13-14).
In an emergency situation, time is of the essence to get the patient stabilized and to prevent further damage to vital organs. After confirming a diagnosis of an ischemic attack or hemorrhage, emergency technicians will conduct preliminary carotid artery stroke treatments, including pinpointing the type and location of blood clots or internal cranial bleeding. If the patient is conscious, technicians will take blood pressure, check the eyes and heart, and assess the presence of atherosclerosis, also known as “hardening of the arteries.” A CAT scan or MRI will reveal damage to arteries and the brain, and confirm the incidence of an attack. Emergency room or ambulance personnel will also test the patient’s motor skills, ability to verbally respond, rate of pulse, and mental acuity.

Emergency carotid artery stroke treatments depend largely on the type of episode the patient has suffered. An ischemic attack occurs when blood clots have traveled to the brain. In the case of a hemorrhagic stroke, arteries or aneurysms have ruptured. If doctors suspect an ischemic attack, aspirin will be administered immediately. Large blood clots can be removed surgically and doctors will prescribe blood thinners to keep platelets from sticking together to form new blockages. Clots may be present in more than one area of the carotid artery or brain; but a CT scan will help pinpoint locations. A carotid endarterectomy removes plaque from the arteries along either side of the neck to the brain; while an angioplasty actually stretches the carotid to allow more blood to flow to the brain. Surgeons may place a stent inside the artery with a catheter to open the passageway and restore blood flow. A stent is a narrow collapsible device which opens to stretch or support weakened arterial walls. The procedure is similar to those performed on cardiac patients.

The objective of carotid artery stroke treatments in the first three hours after detecting symptoms will be to restore blood flow to the brain. If an artery or aneurysm has ruptured, surgeons will also attempt to stop the bleeding to avoid brain cell loss or damage. Prolonged internal bleeding can also cause further damage to vital organs and reduce the patient’s chances of recovery. Emergency carotid artery stroke treatment will involve locating and repairing arteries or removing or clipping aneurysms, depending on their size and location. Aneurysms result when arterial walls are thinned or weakened, causing a balloon which fills with blood. Treatments are designed to help prevent future episodes in high-risk patients. Removing plaque, dissolving blood clots, or widening arteries are measures neurologists take immediately after an attack.

As part of recovery, carotid artery stroke treatments include adapting a diet and certain lifelong lifestyle habits which reduce the patient’s risk of having a re-occurrence. Walking at least fifteen minutes per day increases circulation and helps to restore motor skills lost during an episode. Patients may be prescribed individual exercise plans, which include low-impact aerobics, cycling, or water aerobics to strengthen weak muscles. Mind/body therapies may include journaling, painting, or prayer to reduce stress and help patients cope with emotional issues. Diet changes include eliminating high-fat, high-cholesterol foods which clog arteries and add pounds. Diets rich in whole grains, fresh fruit, a limited amount of lean meats, and baked or broiled fish also contribute to better health. After surgery, patients on blood thinners, such as coumadin, should avoid eating leafy green vegetables which counteract the clotting properties of the drug, and be careful about getting cuts and lacerations, which might bleed more freely.

Emergency carotid artery stroke treatments are effective within the first three hours of detection. People over the age of 50 who are sedentary or have a family history of high blood pressure or heart disease are prone to have an ischemic attack. Individuals that display symptoms should get medical assistance as soon as possible. Waiting to see if symptoms subside is like playing Russian roulette; and the longer patients go without treatment, the more damage can be caused by clots or cranial hemorrhaging. Call 9-1-1 if individuals appear to be disoriented, if one side of the face drops, or if the speech is noticeably slurred. Ask the patient to try to raise both arms. If one side appears to be weaker than the other, or if the individual cannot repeat a sentence clearly, chances are that they have suffered an episode. After emergency medical personnel have been alerted, the patient should be kept warm and quiet. With prompt medical care and the implementation of effective carotid artery stroke treatments, patients should recover and regain normal motor and ambulatory skills.