Q: How is carotid artery disease diagnosed?
A: Carotid artery disease occurs when the major arteries in your neck become narrowed or blocked. The carotid arteries supply your brain with blood and extend from your aorta in your chest to the brain inside your skull.
As you age, a sticky substance called plaque can build up within the walls of the arteries. This plaque is made up of cholesterol, calcium, and fibrous tissue. As more plaque builds up, your arteries narrow and stiffen, leading to a process called atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
The use of a noninvasive technique called an ultrasound can effectively and efficiently identify a patient at risk of having blocked carotid arteries, a condition that could lead to stroke.
Dr. Chris Lesar is a vascular surgeon at Vascular Institute of Chattanooga and a member of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society.