Carotid artery disease is a condition in which the carotid arteries become narrowed or blocked. When the arteries become narrowed, the condition is called carotid stenosis.
The carotid arteries provide the main blood supply to the brain. They are located on each side of your neck. You can feel their pulse under the jawline.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Carotid artery disease occurs when sticky, fatty substances called plaque build up in the inner lining of the arteries. See also: Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
Risk factors for blockage or narrowing of the arteries include:
Family history of stroke
High blood pressure
Smoking (people who smoke one pack a day double their risk of a stroke)
Two uncommon conditions called Marfan syndrome and fibromuscular dysplasia (abnormal growth or development of the cells in the walls of carotid arteries) may also cause narrowing of the carotid arteries.
Detection of calcified tissue in the carotid artery by dental x-rays is not enough evidence to estimate a patient's stroke risk was the conclusion of a systematic literature review published in this month's Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA).
Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability among adults in the U.S. It occurs when a blood vessel that brings oxygen and nutrients to the brain bursts or becomes clogged by a blood clot or some other mass. Panoramic radiography is a procedure used in dental practice for detecting dental disease. According to the JADA article authors, a trend toward using panoramic x-rays to identify stroke-prone patients has become a much-debated health care issue over the past two decades.
This issue is complicated because there are many risk factors that predispose a person to generalized atherosclerosis and plaque formation that also can promote the risk of cerebrovascular blockage and stroke, according to the article. Incidental findings of CCAA on panoramic radiographs, the authors wrote, should not be the only basis for estimating risk of stroke. Risk factors such as age, smoking history, total cholesterol level, systolic blood pressure and hypertension should receive close examination.