Finding out that you have a blocked carotid artery can be very concerning, especially after a stroke. It’s common to wonder what life expectancy with a blocked carotid artery can look like, especially if the diagnosis is new.
That’s why in this post, we’ll be looking at how a blocked carotid artery can occur and what life expectancy to look out for with the presence of modern surgical procedures.
What Is A Blocked Carotid Artery?
Your carotid arteries are major blood vessels that supply your head with oxygenated blood. They’re located on either side of your neck and supply your brain with the blood, oxygen, and nutrients it needs to function correctly.
Like any blood vessel, carotid arteries are susceptible to obstruction. For example, plaque, a substance made from cholesterol, calcium, and fats, can deposit on the inner walls of the artery, narrowing them and lessening blood flow to vital organs. This condition is atherosclerosis, and it can cause damage to the arteries and increase the risk of embolism and stroke.
A stroke interrupts blood flow to the brain. As a result, brain cells that are no longer able to receive oxygen begin to die off. And if this happens, it can cause physical and mental dysfunction and can be life-threatening.
Life Expectancy With A Blocked Carotid Artery
If your doctor discovers a carotid artery blockage after you have a stroke, they may recommend an invasive surgical procedure to lower your risk of having another one.
One of these procedures involves the insertion of a stent inside your carotid artery. It’s essentially a section of tiny mesh tube that holds a narrowed blood vessel open to allow proper blood flow. But, while it may sound intimidating, the risks of leaving a blood vessel blockage in place far outweigh those of getting a stent.
Another procedure is the carotid endarterectomy (CEA.) This is a form of surgery that involves a surgeon clamping the affected artery, cutting into it, and removing the blockage. Once the removal is complete, they can patch the artery using a section from a vein in your leg. They then stitch the artery and neck back up.
Doctors widely consider the CEA procedure to be safe. It is greatly effective at reducing the risk of stroke for individuals with carotid artery blockages. Numerous studies have shown that post-CEA risk of getting a stroke on the affected side was dramatically decreased. Therefore, it’s a procedure that tangibly enhances their life expectancy.
The key to prolonging your life expectancy with a blocked carotid artery is living a healthy lifestyle. Quitting smoking, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and diligently taking medications significantly improve your chances. This is true whether you have just been diagnosed or have already had a stroke. And, of course, following up regularly with your doctor is important to help keep tabs on your condition.
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